This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Javier Morales is staying in Major League Soccer, and on a more fascinating level, the Western Conference.
On Tuesday, FC Dallas officially announced the signing of the 36-year-old free agent attacking midfielder who spent the last 10 seasons showcasing himself as one of the premier creative talents in MLS with Real Salt Lake.
"We're excited to bring Javier Morales to Dallas," said FC Dallas president Dan Hunt in a video on the club's website. "He is a player that when we looked at the possible free agents, Javier was at the top of our list of players to bring to the FC Dallas family here.
"He's a guy who has tortured us over the years, had a lot of success, had a lot of success in the league if you look at him. He's been a consistent over 2,000-minute-player-a-year."
Morales scored 49 goals and notched 81 assists in 240 career appearances at RSL after arriving in Utah during the summer of 2007. The three-time MLS All-Star guided RSL to four respective cup finals during his decade with the club, including the team's only major trophy the 2009 MLS Cup.
Soon-to-be 37 in January, Morales now joins a youthful, talented FC Dallas team coming off not only a Supporter's Shield title, but a U.S. Open Cup victory as well in 2016. The Argentine playmaker will help spell FC Dallas in the absence of Mauro Diaz, Dallas' 25-year-old dynamic midfielder who suffered a torn Achilles tendon late in October.
"Javier brings great leadership, so we're excited for him to be a new member of FC Dallas, and we think he'll really help us out in CONCACAF Champions League," Hunt added.
The Morales era at RSL ended abruptly, and quite dramatically. Morales took to Twitter soon after RSL's first-round playoff exit against the L.A. Galaxy on Oct. 26, and announced he was leaving RSL. Morales said he was stunned when informed by the RSL front office that his 2017 option wouldn't be picked up. He later held his own press conference in a downtown hotel conference on Nov. 10 and explained that it wasn't his decision to leave Utah and RSL.
"Unfortunately, [the exit meeting] didn't go exactly as scripted," RSL general manager Craig Waibel said in November. "Not every meeting ends with handshakes and hugs, and there are some very difficult conversations that are had. But I think Javi's a class act. I don't have anything bad to say about him."
"We belong here," Morales said that day. "We are almost from Utah."
Now Morales joins one of RSL's longtime conference rivals and a roster brimming with young homegrown talent that spurred FC Dallas to the top of the West last season. When asked about his new head coach, Oscar Pareja, in September, Morales spoke glowingly of the Colombian.
"I think Oscar he does a lot for that team," Morales said. "I think tactically, for me, it's the best team in the league. They know how to play at home and away. You can see how they change. When they play at home, they're more aggressive, and when they go away, they don't have problems to sit and wait for a counter attack. That means a lot for the coach that they can change situations because not every game is the same. I think a give a lot of credit to Oscar."