Julio Morales was a player who represented both the good and bad about Chivas USA's philosophy in 2013. He was young, a Mexican American who played with the Mexican U-20s during the year and went to the U-20 World Cup, so he had considerable potential. But for a player getting his very first professional minutes in 2013, sending him to Chivas USA on loan looked to be less a move to improve that team than to stash him and let him get his sea legs under him away from the mothership that is Chivas de Guadalajara.
Obviously, it's not Morales' fault he was loaned to Chivas USA, and I think later in the season he showed he was starting to put together his skills and burgeoning experience.
Maybe he really impressed in the preseason, but it seemed like a really poor decision to start him in the first game of the season ahead of slightly-older-but-vastly-more-experienced Juan Agudelo. Morales did nearly score on a breakaway in the first half of that match, but he couldn't get the ball in the net.
Can you tell I can't quite make up my mind on Morales?
In the context of Chivas USA, putting so much faith in a 19-year-old who, again, had not previously played any pro minutes seemed like a terrible idea. Sure, young players, especially strikers, can sometimes thrive when being thrown in the deep end. But Morales had to take his lumps like most youngsters.
It wouldn't have seemed like such a poor move if Chivas had consistent scoring, and Morales was there to supplement the forward ranks. But he was one of the core strikers over the course of the season, and notching two goals on a team with so few goals just wasn't good enough for a team perspective.
Here are Morales' statistics with Chivas USA in 2013:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|MLS Regular Season||17||9||768||2||0||17||8||2||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Chelís gave Morales minutes early in the season, but he was alternated with just about every other player on the roster in that regime. Following the U-20 World Cup and Jose Luis Real's appointment as coach, Morales played quite a bit. As I said, he got his bearings as the season wore on, but I'm not sure he really warranted all those minutes.
Was it good for his development? Yes, and given Chivas USA's status within the umbrella organization, the season was a success for him on that level. But from the team perspective? Again, it's not his fault that management was terrible at even keeping forwards on the roster, let alone having productive strikers. But I would argue that Morales would have benefitted more from a team that had more experience, offensive production, and stability than Chivas USA in 2013. A situation like that might have decreased his minutes with the first team, but it likely would have helped his development far more.
On the whole, I wouldn't count Morales' season very successful in relation to Chivas USA. He could turn out to be a solid pro, but he still has a lot of growth in his game to come if he's going to really make a mark.
Morales has gone back to Guadalajara, but rather than join the first team, he's been sent to the reserve CD Tapatio side. Again, sending a young player away for some seasoning isn't a bad thing in itself, especially if that player turns out to be decent, but if he's not ready to make a step up, then why was Chivas USA responsible for giving him so many minutes?
I don't know, maybe Morales will get a shot with the first team in a year or two, maybe Chivas will loan him out to another Liga MX or Ascenso MX side, or maybe he'll never quite get out of the reserves position. He's got potential, but plenty of work to do to make it to the true big time. Will he become a star someday? I'd say probably not, but only time will tell on that front.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!