TUKWILA, Wash. – For many, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Seattle Sounders rookie forward Jordan Morris would make the US national team’s final 23-man roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.
The 21-year-old has been making waves on the international level since his days as a college student at Stanford University, where he became the first collegiate player to earn a USMNT call-up in two decades. He’s also been in top form on the club level in recent weeks, bagging four goals in his last five games for the Sounders.
That pedigree – combined with an ill-timed hamstring injury to US mainstay striker Jozy Altidore – made for more than a few raised eyebrows when USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced his roster for the upcoming tournament on Saturday with Morris’s name the most notable omission.
Morris offered up his reaction following Seattle’s training session at Starfire Soccer Complex on Tuesday, saying that he has no issues with the decision.
“[Klinsmann] told me not take it too hard and that there was a lot of competition,” Morris said. “I completely respect his decision. There were a lot of good forwards playing and they’re all playing really well. I wish those guys all the best. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer.”
Klinsmann has said that the decision essentially boiled down to a 50-50 choice between Morris and San Jose Earthquakes’ veteran Chris Wondolowski. In the end, the edge went to Wondolowski, who has seven goals and two assists in 12 games for San Jose so far this season.
Morris says he understands that aspect of the decision as well.
“He’s just such a good finisher in the box,” Morris said of Wondolowski. “He just knows how to score goals and knows his way in and around the box. He’s better than me at that for sure. I think we have different skill sets and Jurgen went with his, which is totally understandable.”
In the short term, Morris says he’ll turn his focus to continuing to build on the strong start to his career with the Sounders, while also using the omission as motivation to try and get back into the national team mix when future opportunities present themselves.
“I think every time you’re left off something like that, it gives you fuel to your fire to try and get back in the mix a little bit,” Morris said. “It’s obviously a little disappointing and I would have loved to be on the team. But, again, I completely respect the decision and I’m just going to try and keep working hard on the things I know I can continue to improve on to get to that next level.”