NEW YORK – Real Salt Lake playmaker Javier Morales believes that his club has what it takes to capture a treble in 2011.
“I think we have the tools to achieve it,” he said on FutbolMLS.com's Tiro Libre podcast. “But when you talk about the team, it depends a lot on the mental state of the squad and how we start [the season]. If we get through the CONCACAF Champions League, then it could lift our spirits and push us to fight for every trophy.”
The Argentine is currently in preseason with Real Salt Lake as they prepare for the Champions League quarterfinals against fellow MLS side Columbus Crew. The first leg will be played on Feb. 22 in Columbus, and both teams will be on equal ground as far as conditioning is concerned.
[inline_node:322265]RSL have made it abundantly clear that the Champions League trophy, which provides a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup, is the organization’s chief priority. Should they advance past the Crew, Real Salt Lake would then face either Olimpia (Honduras) or Saprissa (Costa Rica). Morales already knows which he would prefer to face.
“If I could pick one for any reason, maybe it would be the team from Honduras,” he said. “Saprissa play on synthetic surface and I don’t like it too much. But it would only be for this reason.”
In the meantime, RSL will continue to focus on physical conditioning and they have already moved past the 2-1 exhibition loss at the hands of Vancouver on Feb. 1. Despite the setback, Morales was ecstatic about the performance of newcomer Arturo Alvarez, who represents the club’s biggest acquisition of the offseason.
“We didn’t make a lot of moves on the transfer market,” Morales said. “The idea of the club is that it wants to maintain a base [of players]. … We’re coming off a great season last year and there aren’t many moves to make. It’s good for us that a player comes in like Arturo Alvarez, who can add a lot to our attack.”
If there is any member of the RSL old guard who may be playing with a chip on his shoulder, it will likely be Morales. His red card in the opener of the playoff series against FC Dallas prevented him from being on the field as his team bowed out in the second leg.
“I finished last season with a little sadness,” he said. “Sadly, [the season] escaped us in little details and errors and I include myself in that with the red card.
“I think in 2010 we deserved to get to the final even more than the year before, when were champs. We did things really well during the entire year. … We have to focus on our game and focus on what we‘ve been doing in recent years, which has worked really well for us.”