Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales experienced a once-in-a-lifetime game at Houston on Sunday, May 11. He scored three goals and one assist in one game -- a first in his professional career, believe it or not.
RSL’s 5-2 win over the Dynamo kept the team unbeaten through 10 games. More important is the impact it will have on the team going forward as Kyle Beckerman, Alvaro Saborio and Nick Rimando are sure to depart for the World Cup this week.
But the biggest positive prior to these departures may have come from Morales, who was a journeyman in Argentina’s professional divisions before coming to Real Salt Lake several years prior -- becoming an All-Star center mid in Major League Soccer. In many ways, Morales’ first professional hat trick proves he is a special player and in his own unique way, he can help bear the burden while his teammates are away in Brazil.
But, when you read the comments Morales makes about his teammates and the manner in which he approaches each and every game he plays after he just played the biggest game of his life, it reminds you of another Utah sports legend, the great, incomparable Hall of Famer John Stockton.
Like Stockton, Morales is cut from the same humble and hard working cloth, the son of a shop owner who like Stockton wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Here are five reasons RSL midfield maestro Javier Morales got his first-ever professional hat trick -- in his own words at a post-game press conference.
“No, you don’t expect to score a goal in the first 20 seconds, but we do expect to win the game. We start to push forward in the beginning of the game, and we got two goals. We had the penalty kick, and another goal.”
"We are deep, we have a deep team, and we have a couple guys who have been waiting for the opportunity to play. It is going to be tough, because we are losing the captain, our top scorer, and our goalkeeper. We have to deal with that, and they’re going to the World Cup. We wish the best to them, but now we have to focus on us, and try to keep winning games.”
(When asked if RSL was a deep team)
“I don’t know, I mean I hope so. If we are, we have to show it. We have to show that to everyone, and Saturday we have a chance to play a good team against Colorado. I hope that we can prove that.”
“Never as a professional. Even in the low divisions I never had one. This was my first time, but I’m happy. I’m always happy to score a goal, but I think I needed it. Those three goals came when I really needed it.”
(Kyle Beckerman on his teammate)
“When you score a goal like that, and scoring then getting assists, that’s our guy. That’s what he’s on our team for. That’s who Javi is, and it was a great game for him. One that’s exciting for the fans of Real Salt Lake, because he can do special things.”