Pedro Morales recently penned a farewell letter to the Whitecaps faithful. In the letter he showed his appreciation for the team, the organization and the heartfelt support of its fans. I am one of those fans. I have his name with mine and my daughter’s picture nestled into the crook of the sevens on the back of my jersey. I became a fan as soon as he got here, and while it was hard to watch his game deteriorate beside the rest of the team this season, I remain a fan of his. In the stretch run to the season I was critical of Morales’s game as we later found out he was too injured to be the skilled, creative player the team desperately needed him to be to fight for that final playoff position.
But, oh, the skills! They are the reason I became such a Morales supporter. Once my other fanboy Whitecap fave Y.P. Lee retired, Morales was the most skilled player this team has seen in its modern incarnation. Yes, Camilo could score goals and I continue to argue with myself that Y.P. was at least as skilled as Morales, but we only saw the wane of Lee’s skill in white and blue. When I first saw a Morales seeing-eye-pass from back in midfield perfectly split a defense and hold up in the perfect place for a winger to latch onto, with enough room in front of goal to actually do something with it, my breath held itself for me. How many times did I gasp to see a pass beat everyone but its intended receiver. And he was good with the ball at his feet. He could dance away from defenders in close, or bring down balls with a deft touch. I realized with Morales that as much as I appreciate hustle, and grit, and passion in a player, what really excites me as a fan is pure skill with the ball. Morales gave us glimpses of the beautiful game. That is not something I can say we have seen a lot of up here in the upper left corner of the MLS.
I hope I don’t have to wait longer than an offseason before we can see more of what unadulterated skill looks like on the pitch. The kind of pure talent that you know was always there in a player but was just waiting for the rest of his game to catch up to it. As a fan, I want to see wins, and I want to cheer for goals, because I ultimately want to be in the stadium to watch my team lift a major trophy as I unceremoniously lose my mind. But what I want most is to be inspired. With Morales, at times, we saw first hand what that kind of talent could look like.
Unfortunately, Morales arrived in Vancouver with an ailing body, and he never seemed to get over it. The thrill and beauty of his debut season as a ‘Cap was cut short in his second season by injury, and then injury again last season. It was difficult to watch his game suffer for his woes, his obvious frustration as his struggles persisted, and his inability to be at his best when the team most needed him. I’m thinking specifically of last year’s playoff game against Portland and the second half of this season. There has been ample criticism of Morales in these comment threads, and much of it deserved for the reasons I just stated. But, I want my final word on Morales, as a fan of his and the team he played for, to be an appreciative one for the moments of awe, that got me out of my seat (metaphorically speaking, since I never sit in my seat) and made me excited about how beautiful the game can actually be with a perfectly weighted ball that has just the right curve on it.
I wish you well, Pedro. All the best to you and your family and thank you for the memories.