We were all excited when FC Dallas brought in Javier Morales this offseason from Real Salt Lake. Many expected him to be the Mauro Diaz replacement while he recovered from an Achilles injury. But three weeks into the season, we’ve barely gotten to see Morales on the field for FC Dallas.
Our staff discusses what they were expecting out of Morales this season.
Etan Cohn - Offensive Spark
In MLS, it is hard for a team to be at the top of the tables and really compete for trophies if they have any cold stretches throughout the season. The FC Dallas Front Office decided that they couldn't just sit and wait for Diaz to return midseason and hope that a new formation and playing style would work for the first half of the season. That is why they brought in Javier Morales. Tactically, the single addition of Javier Morales allows FC Dallas to have two strong formations, the 4-4-2 without Morales, and the 4-2-3-1 with him. If the 4-4-2 stops working for whatever reason, Pareja has the option to go back to the reliable and familiar formation used last year, the 4-2-3-1.
My expectations for Javier Morales this year are that he can play similarly to Diaz every few games for 60 minutes and then sub off, and for other games play as a super sub role like Mauro Rosales did, coming in when a goal is needed. Either way, his role will be as a spark for the FC Dallas offense. Even if he isn't scoring goals or doing much defensively, his passing and crossing ability will be crucial to FC Dallas' success this season, and those abilities were ultimately how he made a name for himself with RSL, where he played for over 10 years.
Nathan Hill - I don't know.
I'm not trying to be a downer here, but Javier is a bit of a question mark this year for me. I am hopeful that he will bring a spark off the bench late in games, but I had hoped to see that right out of the gate. His potential injury or lack of fitness to start the season concerns me. His cool veteran presence could have been helpful against Pachuca, but where was he?
A stellar year for more would be double digit starts and 8 assists, but if he doesn't get there, it may ultimately mean we didn't need his services. Maybe that's a good thing.
Jeff Loftin - What expectations?
I don't really have a lot of expectation for Javier Morales this year. I think he will be a nice addition off the bench, but not really the first choice. He'll likely get minutes in the USOC and in busy weeks with midweek games. His long-range shooting capability is going to be a help when he does play, but with Kellyn Acosta playing so well and Ulloa coming back healthy, I don't see a chance get too many minutes without an injury ahead of him. The central midfield is already crowded and with Mauro coming back this summer I would temper expectations for anything other than off-field leadership.
Drew Epperley - The slow rollout
I’ve kept my thoughts on Morales pretty much to myself so far this season. I went into the season thinking he would get plenty of time on the field but as preseason began, it was pretty clear that Oscar Pareja was going to roll him out very similarly to how he did Mauro Rosales a year ago. The slow roll out. Seeing that cooled any expectation I previous had.
Last week we also saw that he wasn’t even in the 18 against New England. The club later told us that he was left out as a precautionary thing. That further tempered my expectations of what we’re going to get from him.
I think at best we’re going to see a spark off the bench from him in the coming weeks as Pareja slowly rolls him out into this attack. Pareja is pretty keen on this 4-4-2 look right now and Morales doesn’t fit that look unless you remove someone like Kellyn Acosta from the field (which isn’t happening right now). By the end of the season, if he isn’t that big spark that we’re looking for then this was a wasted move.
El Chico Carmona - Insurance for the long run
I think we all pretty much saw Javi Mo as a like for like replacement for Diaz. That clearly is not the case.
Everyone forgets just how young this team is. Everyone forgets that we're not that far removed from disastrous losses to Seattle & Houston. A young team needs a calming voice in practice, in the locker, on the bench, and on the field. Javi Mo is that man.
A team aspiring to win four tournaments, can't afford to have the wheels come off the bus at any point. Javi Mo's value to the team will be more apparent as injuries, fatigue, and International call ups mount. Javi will be asked to take the reins in those situations.
Last but not least, Paxton Pomykal needs a mentor, and if Javi Mo losses minutes at Paxton's expense...............well, I'm OK with that.