SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – As Real Salt Lake makes a run at the MLS playoffs, the team is celebrating its greatest playoff run ever and one of its all-time best players.
Javier Morales, who played for RSL from 2007-2016, will have his name placed in the rafters of Rio Tinto Stadium during halftime of tomorrow’s game against the L.A. Galaxy, while the entire 2009 MLS Cup championship team will also be honored.
“This club means a lot to me, and especially the fans,” Morales said. “From day one, I don’t know what happened, but we liked each other from the beginning. They were so nice with me.”
Morales is still the team’s all-time leader in assists with 81, and second in goals with 49. At halftime tomorrow, will join former head coach Jason Kreis in the rafters at the RioT, an honor he never expected.
“To be honest, it means a lot, Morales said. “It’s something that you never expect to happen. When I came here in 2007, I never said, OK, I want to put my name up there, no.”
Morales said he can’t believe it’s been a decade since RSL won it’s first and only MLS Cup title, and says the thing that was special about that team was how close they were. RSL finished the regular season with a record of 10-10-10, but got hot in the playoffs.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is the team mentality,” he said. “We were so humble as a team, good teammates, fighting for each other. We were a family. It’s a team that the fans are going to remember forever, and I’m just proud to be part of the team.”
And who knows, 10 years later, maybe this RSL team can go on a similar postseason run.
“I hope the fans come out, pack the place, standing room and everything, and cheer on that group that brought that first star to the crest,” said RSL interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “They set the standard for the club, and all we’re trying to do is come close to replicate that.”