ASN Exclusive

Q&A: Javier Morales at the heart of Inter Miami’s flourishing Academy

With the start of the 2023 season approaching, Inter Miami has been one of the most improved teams in MLS in all areas, including the club's academy. ASN's Arch Bell sat down with former RSL midfielder Javier Morales from Argentina about his role with the club's academy and his transition to first team coaching.
BY Arch Bell Posted
February 14, 2023
12:05 PM

WITH EVERY YEAR, the success of Academies within MLS franchises becomes more important to the growth of not only U.S. Soccer, but also various national team programs around the Concacaf region

In a short span of time, Inter Miami have become one of the leaders on that front and a lot of that has to do with Javier Morales. The former Real Salt Lake midfielder and native of Argentina has been at the heart of the growth of the Inter Miami Academy and is now at first team assistant under head coach Phil Neville.

American Soccer Now was fortunate to visit with Morales on his experience thus far at Inter Miami and working with the team’s Academy players.

Arch Bell for American Soccer Now: You were head coach of Inter Miami’s Under-17 team. What was that experience like?

Javier Morales: “It was great. I’ll always remember it because those were my first steps as a coach. The boys are always ready to learn and listen and you can coach things as they begin to happen. It was a wonderful process. I enjoyed it a lot. They were three-and-a-half great years.”

ASN: What did you work on with the U17s?

Morales: “It wasn’t just one specific part, it was everything. That can make it more complex or more difficult, but that is what we are looking to do, to try to improve the boys not only technically but tactically, mentally and physically. With some boys it is easier, with others it is a bit more difficult. We always tried to improve the boys in all aspects and not focus on just one thing.”

ASN: What did you learn?

Morales: “I learned a lot. I think if I were to tell you about everything I learned we’d be here talking for an hour. I learned about standing up in front of a group and communicating and transmitting my ideas. I learned how to organize myself, I learned to be patient, I learned to respect the process. You just have to be patient in this job because to teach is an art. It is to try to find what is the best way to get across your message. Some do it visually, some do it orally, there are different ways and you have to find what is the way for each player.”

ASN: Is it more rewarding to teach or to win?

Morales: “Both! I think teaching and winning go hand in hand. If you can best transmit your ideas by teaching and the players improve, you will be closer to winning. For me, winning is part of the process. Imagine if you have a boy that you are developing to be a professional player and every weekend he goes out and loses. The 10th weekend that he loses he’s going to go home and tell his parents, ‘I don’t want to play football anymore.’ At the end of the day when we are playing cards or playing basketball, when we are playing what we are playing, it is a game and what a game implies is winning. It’s what we all want, so we shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that winning is also part of the process.”

ASN: How much satisfaction does it give you knowing you had an influence on [current first team] players like Noah Allen, Benja Cremaschi, Edison Azcona…

Morales: “Those are boys that I coached who ended up being professionals and of course it gives me pride for having formed part of that process. But there are also other processes that are really wonderful, like when it is a boy who signs with a college and he sends me a message thanking me for everything that he learned from me, or thanking me for how I treated him, or another boy who has moved on from the club and sends me a message saying that I was like a second father to him.

Those are all things that this profession gives you. Obviously the boys who sign as Homegrowns you feel proud of, but in reality it’s all of them. That’s what makes this profession so gratifying. You are helping that player be a better person, a better brother and one day a better father.”

ASN: What is your current role with the first team?

Morales: “My role today is now solely focused on the first team. What I can contribute in regards to the young players is that I know all of them. When Phil or anyone else from the coaching staff has a question about any young player in the Academy, I can speak about any of them because I coached them, I saw them play and that is useful for the manager. Today more than anything my job is to help Phil in everything that he needs, to help the team and make them better.”

 ASN: How has the Inter Miami academy grown?

Morales: “The Academy has grown a lot in these last three-and-a-half years. The first year we had to start from scratch, we started to get bigger and in our third year as an academy we were able to crown it with a championship with the Under-15s. Winning was important, but also because that same age group has players in the national teams of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, United States, Canada. Like I said before, winning is part of the process, but it also helps the development of the boys, because all of those boys are in national team sides because they won and did well.”

ASN: What does it mean for Inter Miami to have four players currently playing in the Concacaf U17 Championship?

Morales: “It’s important to have those boys in that tournament and that they have the opportunity to have that experience, but without a doubt those boys are there because of the help from their teammates, for what they did in their teams. It comforts us a lot knowing that they will be able to play in a tournament of that class in representing their national teams.”

ASN: What are your thoughts on Federico Higuain coaching Inter Miami II?

Morales: “He’s doing well. I know him well of course. We’re friends. He’s very capable, he’s passionate about football, he has a big heart, he’s a good leader, he was captain of Columbus for many years, so I have no doubt that he will have the capacity to be able to transmit all of his experiences and his football ideas to the boys who are coming into the academy. It’s a great decision by the club that Fede is there.”

ASN: Why is it important for you and Fede to remain part of this league?

Morales: Fede and I have talked about this and we share the same sentiment that we both love this league. We always want the MLS to do well, because it opened their doors to us. We were very similar in that we came from a different place and MLS treated us like their own, so now from our own place we want to contribute our own grain of sand, so that the MLS continues growing and in little time be a lot better than it is today.”

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