FRISCO, Texas — When FC Dallas lost 2-0 at Real Salt Lake on Oct. 16, Javier Morales was a big reason why FCD’s 19-game unbeaten streak ended that night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The RSL playmaker assisted on Ned Grabavoy's goal and then scored his team's second tally himself in the final minute before stoppage time.
Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman clearly doesn’t want to see Morales deliver similar results when the Western Conference semifinal series between these clubs opens at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday afternoon (FSC, 4 p.m. CT).
“[He is] a very skillful player, great vision, good first touch, very good on free kicks and the killer pass," Hyndman said. “He’s a lot like David [Ferreira] is for us, so we’ve got to be very concerned about him as we are about them as a team.”
Hyndman’s players echo his respect for the Argentine playmaker who figures to be a big factor in this two-game series.
“Ever since he’s come into the league, he’s been a Best XI type of player,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. "He’s definitely one of the best players in the league, a guy you have to have a ton of respect for and a dangerous player for them."
McCarty also appreciates that Morales is just one of the RSL attackers who can hurt FCD this weekend.
"He likes to float and find little spaces in between the midfield and defense where he can collect passes, take shots and try to get assists," McCarty said. "He’s a very tough player to play against, but at the same time, I think we’ll be prepared and be ready for him.”
FC Dallas captain Daniel Hernandez, who holds down the middle of the park as his side’s defensive midfielder, figures to have plenty of battles with Morales before this series is over.
“We’ll definitely be trying to put some pressure on him,” Hernandez said. “I don’t think anyone is that good to be able to beat us on their own. If anybody comes in and beats us, it’s going to have to be a team effort."
Morales has two career goals and four assists in seven matches against FCD.
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