Javier Morales, Juninho

Real Salt Lake Man of the Match: Javier Morales


If we scored the middle of the park like a prize fight, this was a KO for Real Salt Lake pair Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales.

The LA Galaxy’s talented central pairing, Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas, never got a good foothold on Thursday’s big game at Rio Tinto Stadium. But the Beckerman-Morales duo were in control, as the home team claimed most of the possession and kept their opposition parts in check.

All four members of RSL’s midfield were relentless in their pressure and the resolve not to let L.A. develop any rhthym. (Not that the game had much of it; as windy conditions limited much of the pretty stuff from either side.)

Morales did something else, too: The veteran playmaker made the difference in the moments that mattered. It was Morales who swung a ball over to Chris Wingert in the first half, a sequence that eventually turned into the critical, aggregate goals equalizer.

But Morales’ bigger mark on the game came on two second half restarts, both from similar positioning along the left side.

(MORE: Match report as Real Salt Lake eliminates the LA Galaxy)

His perfectly delivered 85th-minute free kick bounded directly into goal – only to be nullified when referee Baldomero Toledo called a foul or perhaps offside. It was never exactly clear. Either way, that was the right ball given the swirling wind inside Rio Tinto, which was giving player on both sides trouble and adding so much adventure to every restart.

Never mind the controversy, which won’t be quite such the talker now. Because Morales had another free kick special just like it. Chris Schuler lost his marker with a big, looping run around to the far post and stuck out his long right leg to get on the end of Morales’ sharp delivery. That was the series winner.

According to Opta, Morales created eight chances for Real Salt Lake — double what any other player on the field created.

Hilarious “Friends” spoof video ‘starring’ Messi, Ronaldo (video)

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.53.49 AM
Leave a comment

Given the rivalry surrounding the two megawatt superstars plying their trade in Spain, you may be surprised to learn that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best of friends.

[ MORE: Top USMNT-Mexico rivalry moments ]

At least that’s what this spoof video conveys, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars help each other navigate tax season and toilet troubles.

Brilliant stuff, from FootbOle:

Top USMNT-Mexico moments: Looking back ahead of Saturday

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 25:  Landon Donovan #10 of United States celebrates his goal with teammates Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Alejandro Bedoya #22  against Mexico during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship at the Rose Bowl on June 25, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Leave a comment

You could argue its the biggest match between the U.S. and Mexico outside of the 2002 World Cup’s Round of 16, and there would be few arguments against you.

The United States and Mexico will tangle on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to the 2017 Confederations Cup finals in Russia.

It’s only so often that these rivals match up in a “do or die” match. Sure World Cup qualifiers carry critical import, but they don’t always become the decisive moment in the qualifying cycle.

[ MORE: Spurs’ teen shining at center back for U.S. U-23s ]

Aside from the aforementioned World Cup match and the first match in the rivalry — see 1934 below — no other match has carried as much international weight as Saturday.

So with anticipation high, let’s dance backward in time to the Yanks’ best moments in the rivalry. And let’s also imagine what would have to happen to put Saturday in the mix.

(Of course, our apologies to Mexican fans. We aren’t including the times you slapped American soccer in the face).

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” to the fourth power

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers.

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded an upset of the world’s then-No. 7 ranked nation, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

Aldo Donnelli scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years.