During his playing days, Javi Morales played four times at Talen Energy Stadium during his tenure with Real Salt Lake, but the former MLS star’s return this weekend to Chester was in a more low key capacity.
Morales is the head coach of the Inter Miami U17 team, which is part of the Generation adidas Cup for the first time and is here playing in the first leg of qualifiers at the Power Training Complex.
“I grew up with this league, I know how it was in the past and now I’m really excited to be part of the youth program,” Morales said after coaching his boys to a 3-1 win over New England Revolution in their first game on Friday. “It’s growing and growing every year and I’m happy to help kids to follow their dreams.”
Inter Miami’s first team officially begins play in 2020, but the academy was launched in August with teams at the five age groups in the Development Academy.
“Even if the first team is not here we’re working with young talent,” Morales said. “I think it’s important because we’re starting to build in South Florida the passion for the club.”
Morales retired after the 2017 season and started coaching with the FC Dallas U13 team before taking the job with Inter Miami.
During his team’s game on Friday, an RSL U15 team was playing the Union on the field behind him.
“That was a little bit awkward,” said Morales, who made 240 appearances for RSL over his decade in Utah and finished his career a member of the 50-50 club with 50 career goals and 50 career assists in the league.
During his playing days, Morales faced Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin both when he was still playing in the league and as a head coach.
“I don’t miss playing this guy,” Curtin said after saying hello to Morales at Power Training Complex on Friday. “It was tough.”
Curtin also got his start coaching in the youth ranks, leading the Union U17s to the GA Cup trophy in 2012.