In case you didn't notice, the 2013 MLS All-Star team was announced on Monday, with the game taking place on July 31st in Kansas City. With the announcement of the team - headed by Kansas City coach Peter Vermes - there follows inevitable hand-wringing from pundits about snubs - players who deserved to make the All-Star team but didn't.
Some snubs that immediately come to mind are RSL's Ned Grabavoy, LA's Marcelo Sarvas, and Philadelphia's Jack McInerney, but they aren't the biggest surprises. While Vermes did RSL fans a solid by naming Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, and Kyle Beckerman to the team, the omission of Javier Morales shocked me the most, and his snub is the subject of this post. Nothing I can write is going to get Morales added to the roster, but it does provide the opportunity to recognize a player who is having a phenomenal year.
How good has Morales' year been so far? Consider this: His five goals are tied with Olmes Garcia for the team lead, and his eight assists are far and away the most on the team. At this pace, he'll finish the season with nine goals and 15 assists. In 2009, Morales had one goal and five assists. In 2010, Morales had seven goals and nine assists. Why did I choose 2009 and 2010 as points of reference? Because Javi made the All-Star team both those years.
Granted, 2009 and 2010 were different times in MLS. It seems that lately more teams have seen the value in a true No. 10 and more teams have spent money on that position. So clearly the bar is higher for Morales than it was back in those days.
But in spite of all the young talent and big-name players that now quarterback offenses; the evidence suggests that Morales is still at the top of the class. As mentioned above, Morales has scored five goals and dished out eight dimes so far this year. New York's Tim Cahill has five goals and three assists. Portland (and ex-RSL) man Will Johnson stands at six and three. KC's Graham Zusi is on four and five, Houston's Brad Davis has three and three, and Montreal's Patrice Bernier has two and five. All five of those midfielders made the All-Star team while Javier Morales did not. I'm not implying that these players don't deserve to be on the team; they have all had fine seasons. But after you look at these numbers you can't tell me that there's not room for a player who has produced the way Javi has.
Aside from just the raw numbers, Morales continues to do all the little things that make RSL a winner. Integrating so many new, young faces into the squad is a daunting task, one that usually takes teams’ considerable time. RSL struggled a bit in the early going as most of us expected, but lately they've been on a well-publicized tear. This doesn't happen without veteran leaders integrating the locker room and getting the new talent to buy in to what's being taught. Morales is an instrumental figure in the RSL locker room, especially serving as a bridge between the American and Latino players, and his efforts in that regard are one reason why RSL currently sits at the top of the league table.
It's true that All-Star games are more of a popularity contest than a legitimate selection of the best players, but they also serve as a form of recognition within the MLS community; a form of recognition that Morales certainly deserves this season.
A former RSL beat reporter for multiple outlets, Jeremy Horton is a regular contributor to RealSaltLake.com and helps cover the team for ESPN 700 AM.
Fan voting for this summer's MLS All-Star Game began on June 10. On Thursday, a new element was added: The Twitter vote.
How does the Twitter vote work? Here's all you need to know:
- Votiing is open from 10 a.m. MT on Thursday until 9:59 p.m. MT on Friday. It's a short window, so vote for your favorite RSL players early and often.
An eligible vote consists of the hashtag #MLSAllStar
AND the player's full name (first and last required) with or without a space.
- Example: Kyle Beckerman or KyleBeckerman
OR their Twitter handle
- Example: @NickRimando
- AND the player's full name (first and last required) with or without a space.
- Fans may vote for multiple players in a tweet; however fans may not vote for a single player multiple times within one tweet.
Fans may only vote for players on the All-Star ballot
- The six RSL players on the ballot are: Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Javier Morales, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio. Click here to see the full ballot.
- There is no limit to the number of tweet votes fans can submit for any one player. Like we said, vote early and vote often.
- Each Twitter vote counts equal to one text vote or one online vote.
Don't have Twitter? No, worries. Click here to fill out the standard online ballot. Vote RSL!
RSL captain Kyle Beckerman played a starring role in Wednesday's MLS All-Star game, threading a gorgeous through ball to set up Eddie Johnson for his 91st minute game-winner in the All-Stars' 3-2 victory over UEFA Champions League title-holders Chelsea FC at PPL Park.
Beckerman played the final 34 minutes on Wednesday night, coming into the match in the 57th minute for Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso. Captain Kyle was incredibly effective and efficient from his position directly in front of the back four, completing an astounding 21 of 21 passes, winning one tackle and making two interceptions against the Blues.
"I got some good minutes in the second half, and it was a great night to be part of this game," Beckerman told the Salt Lake Tribune after the game. "This is an experience I'll cherish and I hope there are many more."
Beckerman returns to Salt Lake on Thursday. It's unlikely that he'll play on Friday against Vancouver, with head coach Jason Kreis hinting after practice on Wednesday that he'd hold Beckerman out against the Whitecaps in order to save him for Tuesday's CCL opener at Costa Rican club C.S. Herediano if the midfielder played significant minutes in the All-Star Game.
One player who definitely won't play on Friday is Vancouver center back Jay DeMerit. The veteran defender played all 90 minutes on Wednesday, meaning it's unlikely he'll even be on the gameday roster when RSL takes on the 'Caps at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7 p.m. MT on Friday night.