Morris tore his left ACL in late February while on loan at English Championship side Swansea City, creating an abrupt end to his time overseas. The injury is pretty severe, too.
“I don’t think it’s likely that he’s going to play for us this year,” Lagerwey said. “It’s theoretically possible, but this knee injury was a little more serious than the first one. We gotta be patient. This is a kid in the prime of his career.”
Morris previously tore his right ACL ahead of the 2018 MLS season, causing him to miss that entire campaign. Thus the 26-year-old homegrown winger is used to the recovery road, as challenging as it may be.
Without Morris, Seattle have shifted away from the front-three they’ve used in previous seasons, including when they reached MLS Cup in 2020 and lifted the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy in 2019, when the US men’s national team forward enjoyed a starring role. They’ve paired Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin at center forward, then deputized Brad Smith and Alex Roldan as wingbacks, flanking a three center-back formation.
That change could prove ever-lasting in 2021, especially as Seattle look toward 2022 for Morris’ potential return. Given his playing style and physical traits, Lagerway said they have to be especially careful.
“An athlete like him who’s so fast and so powerful, you have to take care of him,” Lagerwey. “You have to be willing to be patient. We’re not going to rush him back just as we didn’t the last time. As a result, I think it’s very unlikely that he’s going to play this year. Hopefully that sets him up for a very strong 2022.”
When healthy, Morris is among the most dangerous attacking players in MLS. He’s recorded 35 goals and 20 assists in 105 matches, coupled by 10 goals in 39 USMNT appearances.
Now, it’ll be interesting to see if the Sounders land a marquee transfer to soften Morris’ absence. Lagerwey has a history of signing high-impact players in the summertime window, the same period in which midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro and forward Ruidiaz arrived in.
For the complete KJR’s Sounders Weekly interview, listen here.