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Sandy • With his bright orange cleats tucked underneath his left arm, the greatest playmaker in Real Salt Lake history wanted to make some things abundantly clear following Tuesday's training session.
Javier Morales knows he's 36. He knows time isn't on his side.
The attacking midfielder, known for his propensity to see a spade and address it as so, vented after his first full training session back from nursing a quadriceps strain suffered in the 1-0 loss at Portland on Sept. 10.
Morales was initially asked if at this point of the season he pays extra attention to the scorelines around the league as RSL is taking aim at a return to the MLS Cup postseason after missing out in 2015.
He does. "That is the reason that I don't want to miss any games," he explained.
Lately, Morales says he's been irked by comments in various media outlets that since he's 36 37 in January he needs more rest to recover properly during the congested MLS regular-season schedule.
But the man with 49 career regular-season goals and 81 career regular-season assists says he wants to be judged on pure performance. If he has a bad game, chalk it up to a bad performance. Not a poor performance simply because he's an older player.
"It's tough for me in this part of my career, you know, I can read or see people saying, 'He's 36 years old, he needs to rest and he needs to do that and he can't play three games in a week,' " Morales explained. "It's tough for me, because not every person is the same, and I know how hard I work every single day to be ready.
"I'm 36. I know that. I train, I live for this because I love what I do. I think and I feel ready to play. I don't mind. I can play every single game, but most games when we go Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday, I'm ready to play. I can do it."
During RSL's recent scoreless two-game skid, having no Morales seems to have played a role in the club's dip after winning four of six the previous month. With Morales in the starting lineup this season, RSL is 8-4-8. Without him starting? RSL has lost six straight.
Morales said he was feeling 100 percent prior to the Portland match. He spoke to RSL coach Jeff Cassar before the game and told Cassar he was ready. Cassar, instead, opted to rest Morales and start Jordan Allen. Morales later came on at halftime before suffering the quad strain on a free kick attempt midway through the second half.
"I don't rest because I'm tired," Morales said. "I rest because coaches make decisions that I respect. Sometimes I can play, sometimes not. I'm always 100 percent to play."
Cassar said Tuesday's training session was "a massive step" forward for Morales ahead of RSL's home match against FC Dallas, the best team in MLS at the moment. Asked if Morales was on the trajectory to be available to start against FC Dallas, Cassar said, "I would hope so."
Rough day for Plata, Movsisyan
Two-thirds of RSL's potent three-pronged attack suffered injuries in Tuesday's training session. Joao Plata, who has nine goals and 11 assists in 2016, suffered a left quadriceps contusion and left training early. Yura Movsisyan, who also has nine goals this year, later suffered right heel contusion in a collision with defender Justen Glad. RSL is expected to have further updates on the two strikers on Wednesday.
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas
P At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
TV • KMYU