Javier Morales

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

MLS veteran Javier Morales signs with FC Dallas

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After a disappointing end to 2016 for FC Dallas, Oscar Pareja’s side is looking for moves that will put them over the top next season.

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On Tuesday, the Western Conference side announced the signing of former Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales, who was a free agent after leaving the RSL this offseason.

The 36-year-old had previously spent his entire 10-year MLS career with RSL before making the move to Dallas. In his time with RSL, Morales posted four seasons with double-digit assists while helping his side advance to the playoffs in eight campaigns.

Morales has scored 49 career goals in MLS while adding 81 assists after making 240 appearances for RSL since 2007.

MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 3-1 Chicago Fire (video)

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): Here’s a fun fact: this coming Friday will be the two-year anniversary of the last time the Chicago Fire, allegedly a professional soccer team, won a game away from home. Funner fact: Chivas USA, which was disbanded and ceased to exist at the end of 2014, has won an MLS game away from home more recently than the Fire (the two actually won road games on the same day, July 12, 2014, but Chivas kicked off two and a half hours after Chicago). All of that to say: Real Salt Lake beat the Fire at Rio Tinto Stadium, which is not the Fire’s home venue, on Saturday, extending their winless streak away from home to 53 games. Javier Morales scored a brace for RSL, which would have been enough to beat the Fire by itself. The victory, which was the 181st of Nick Rimando’s career to set a new record for wins in MLS history, sees RSL leapfrog Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy to go third in the Western Conference, four points back of the second-place Colorado Rapids.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of the MLS weekend ]

Three moments that mattered 

14′ — Garcia rolls one past Lampson for 2-0 — I count six Fire defenders standing around, flat-footed, inside the penalty area as Olmes Garcia makes it 1-0 to RSL.

58′ — Alvarez slots past Rimando to pull one back — Nick LaBrocca, who’s apparently still in MLS, provided the cross. Arturo Alvarez, who appeared in 16 games for RSL in 2011, provided the simple finish.

64′ — Morales fires past Lampson to restore the two-goal lead — Every now and then, Morales turns back the clock and looks like he’s 25 again. So smooth, so calm.

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Man of the match: Javier Morales

Goalscorers: Garcia (14′), Morales (28′ – PK, 64′), Alvarez (58′)

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 28

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Week 28 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, which means it’s time, once again, to sort out our MLS Team of the Week performers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

First things first, answer me this: how is one to pick and MLS Team of the Week when neither Sebastian Giovinco nor Robbie Keane score a goal in the same week? Do we still do a TOTW in that event? I suppose we will. Thankfully, Kei Kamara stepped up and picked up the other leading MVP candidates’s goalscoring slack with two on Saturday night, bringing his total to 20 on the season.

[ WEEK 28: FCD 2-1 NYC | SJ 1-1 SEA | TFC 1-3 NE | ORL 3-1 SKC | PHI 1-2 CLB ]

Neither of Kamara’s goals would have been scored without the expert crossing of Columbus Crew SC right back Harrison Afful, so he gets the nod, as well. Elsewhere on the backline, the weekend’s only 0-0 draw — LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact — provided three standout defensive performances to make up the back four. If you scored an Olimpico goal this weekend, you’re in the TOTW. Come on down, Michel. As for Tesho Akindele, a strike of this quality also does the trick.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 28

Goalkeeper: Steve Clark (Columbus Crew SC)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Victor Cabrera (Montreal Impact), Dave Romney (LA Galaxy)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Adrian Winter (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Michel (FC Dallas)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)

MLS Forwards

MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 2-0 Real Salt Lake (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Will the real Real Salt Lake please stand up? For the first four months of the 2015 Major League Soccer season, the Claret and Cobalt have were a thoroughly underwhelming shell of their former selves. As a playoff-less future became more and more certain, they responded last week with a resounding victory over the Seattle Sounders, giving themselves a glimmer of hope once again. Then, seven days later, they laid a gigantic egg in a 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium on Saturday. Through 45 minutes, RSL looked a decent bet to grab a quality road point against a good but struggling (three straight losses) FCD side, but the second half began and ended in disastrous fashion and the playoffs now look a mighty big ask. Five minutes into the second half, Demar Phillips gave away a penalty (this after he should have been sent off at the end of the first half), Javier Morales missed a penalty of his own, and Fabian Castillo put the game to bed. At the end of the day, RSL (32 points) are six points off a playoff place and rock bottom of the Western Conference. FCD (41), meanwhile, leapfrog Sporting Kansas City into third in the West.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 26 | Steven Gerrard is a big Taylor Swift fan ]

Three moments that mattered

50′ — Akindele taken down inside the box, converts the PK — Tesho Akindele went down inside the box under the slightest of heel kicks from Phillips. Perhaps the contact with the Canadian’s heel was enough to force his foot into the ground and lose his balance, but it’s quite unlucky for Phillips — who, it must be said, should have been off 10 minutes earlier.

77′ — El Burrito taken down in the box, but Morales misses the PK — Juan Manuel Martinez — nicknamed “El Burrito” — was taken down inside the box for a clear-as-day penalty kick, but Javier Morales could only put the ensuing spot kick onto the post of Jesse Gonzalez and watch as Joao Plata skied his effort off the rebound.

79′ — No one steps to Castillo, so he shoots and scores — Seriously, that’s Fabian Castillo dribbling right through the heart of midfield and bearing on your defense. At some point, somebody should step to him and force him to get rid of the ball. If you don’t, he’ll eventually get rid of it himself…into the back of your net.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Kellyn Acosta

Goalscorers: Akindele (PK – 51′), Castillo (79′)

MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 2-0 Seattle Sounders (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For the first time quite some time, Real Salt Lake looked like a team that had “it,” with “it” being hope, in a season-saving (for now) 2-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. With their season very much on the line against the Sounders (Seattle entered the game sixth in the Western Conference with RSL six points back with just eight more games to play), Jeff Cassar’s side showed the kind of urgency they hadn’t really done thus far in 2015. After dropping three straight games by a combined score of 11-4, RSL jumped on the Sounders early and held on to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Sounders, on the other hand, looked completely overwhelmed and more their pre-Obafemi-Martins-returning selves than the bunch who hammered Orlando City SC last week. With the victory, RSL move to within three points of the sixth-place Sounders, who lost ground on fourth-place Portland, second-place Vancouver and potentially first-place LA (vs. New York City FC, Sunday) this weekend.

[ MORE: Previewing the other Week 25 games | How close was Lampard to joining LA? ]

Three moments that mattered

12′ — Morales converts from the sport, gives RSL a lead — Roman Torres was adjudged by referee Ismail Elfath to have handled the ball inside his own penalty area, though replays indicated the Panamanian defender may have been just outside the area. Regardless, Javier Morales did his part and RSL had a 1-0 lead.

19′ — Mulholland hits the bar, Jaime heads home the rebound — Luke Mulholland very nearly doubled RSL’s lead himself with a powerful effort from nearly 25 yards out, but he found only the crossbar. Fortunately for RSL, Sebastian Jaime followed up and didn’t fluff his follow-up header with a wide open goal.

73′ — Frei skies to keep Olave’s header out — Jaime, who was an absolute terror for 87 minutes Saturday night, nearly got himself an assist in the 73rd minute when he rounded a pair of Sounders defenders on the right wing and whipped in a cross that found the head of Jamison Olave. Stefan Frei was all that stood in the way of a 3-0 scoreline, and the big Swiss made the stop.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Sebastian Jaime

Goalscorers: Morales (12′ – PK), Jaime (19′)