CARSON, Calif. – Going into a massive road matchup against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center Sunday, Sounders rookie forward Jordan Morris was in the midst of an inaugural MLS campaign that, while statistically productive, also was not immune to criticism.
Some pointed to an occasionally elusive finishing touch that has seen Morris miss goal-scoring opportunities in potentially game-changing moments. Others have noted a reluctance to use his left foot, even when doing so may have resulted in an easier finish than turning to his favored right.
Those criticisms might have to take a backseat for the time being, however, as the 21-year-old Homegrown product posted a second-half brace against LA in a 4-2 victory to continue Seattle’s surge back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
“It’s part of his growth as a player, for sure,” Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer said of his star rookie. “We’re very proud of him again. Big-time players come up in those moments and make a difference in games. Jordan’s performance was a big-time performance tonight.”
For his part, Morris says his recent surge can simply be attributed to the increased comfort level he’s feeling with playing at the professional level.
“I think as the season’s gone on, the game has slowed down for me a little bit,” he said. “In those moments, I don’t panic as much.”
With Sunday’s brace, Morris bumped his total up to 12 on the season, setting the MLS rookie record for an American-born player in the process. It’s a progression that hasn’t been lost on his teammates.
“It’s amazing. You have to keep in mind, this is a rookie,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We’re talking about a rookie that has a lot of expectations for himself, but also a lot of people putting high expectations on him. That comes with a lot of pressure. He got tossed right in and that’s very, very difficult.”
Regardless of the reason behind the recent uptick in form that has seen him net four times in his past four games, the Sounders are currently reaping the benefits.
Seattle are 5-1-3 since Schmetzer took over as interim coach on July 31 and are now just three points behind the sixth-place Portland Timbers ahead of a Wednesday home clash with Eastern Conference cellar dwellers Chicago Fire at CenturyLink Field.