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Surgery ends season for Morales

Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales, who joined the club on Aug. 17, had successful shoulder surgery last Thursday and will miss the remainder of the season.

The surgery requires approximately four months of rehabilitation, meaning Morales should be ready for RSL training camp, which typically kicks off the first week in February.

During his short stint with RSL, the Argentine midfielder started five matches and was a substitute in two more. In his 369 minutes, Morales logged one goal and two assists.

Morales injured the shoulder in a reserve game back on Aug. 19 while awaiting his work visa. He played through the pain while Real was clinging to the possibility of climbing back into the playoff race.

Morales joins Kenny Cutler (sport hernia) and Nikolas Besagno (knee), who've also had recent season-ending surgery.

DOWNWARD TREND: Despite its four-game unbeaten streak, Real Salt Lake suddenly finds itself in last place in the Western Conference again, thanks to the Los Angeles Galaxy's resurgence.

Winners of three straight, the Galaxy passed RSL for fifth place in the West with 27 points. RSL, which has tied three of its past four matches, sits on 24 points.

The Galaxy have played one less game than the rest of the MLS, and if it wins that game in hand, it would trail Chicago by only three points for the eighth and final playoff spot.

BACK IN THE MIX: Nate Sturgis, who's missed RSL's last eight matches with a surprisingly significant left calf strain, is back training at 100 percent with the team and is fit for this Saturday's game against visiting Chivas USA if coach Jason Kreis decides to use him.

He played in last Saturday's reserve game at the New York Red Bulls.

Sturgis began the year with the L.A. Galaxy, and was traded to RSL in mid-June. Before joining his new team in late July, he helped the U.S. Under-20 National Team to a quarterfinal appearance in the U-20 World Cup.

Upon joining RSL, he started his first three matches before suffering the injury against Chicago on Aug. 18.

LANDMARK ACHIEVEMENT: Assuming Eddie Pope starts this weekend's match, it will be his 250th start in MLS history, good enough for seventh on the all-time list. Pope has announced that he's retiring at the end of the season, putting him on pace to end his career with 252 starts and 255 games played.