TUKWILA, Wash. – Jordan Morris has always had this type of talent, but he’s taken his game to another level entirely over the past six months.
Per MLSsoccer.com’s Matthew Doyle, the Seattle Sounders’ 25-year-old Homegrown attacker is now up to 17 goals, and 14 assists over his last 32 matches for club and country across all competitions since June 23. That’s the type of stat line that would put him squarely in the Landon Donovan MLS MVP conversation should he approach or exceed it over the course of the 2020 league season.
For Morris, it’s been a long time coming. Once billed as one of the next great hopes for the US men’s national team, he had an inconsistent and injury-shortened sophomore season before missing all of 2018 with a torn ACL. But even with a solid 10g/7a line in 2019, a season that ended with another MLS Cup title and a Comeback Player of the Year Award, the feeling that there’s another level he can reach still lingers.
Judging by those aforementioned numbers and his season-opening brace in a 2-1 win over Chicago Fire FC on Saturday, the time when Morris truly vaults into the MLS elite may have arrived.
“I think the kid was super motivated after that [ACL] injury,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after training Tuesday. “That whole storyline, we talked a lot about it, but he’s an emotional kid. That day was horrific for our club, it was like a black cloud that hung over the club for a while.
“He had to get himself out of that. He was the one, I couldn’t tell him anything, he had to do it. And judging by the stats, he’s done pretty well at getting himself out of the hole and coming back and playing up to his potential.”
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Morris’ development is that assist total.
A pure striker for most of his life, Morris switched to the wing full-time when the Sounders signed Raul Ruidiaz. While it took some adjusting, the move out wide turned out to be a perfect match for his skill set.
A physically-gifted athlete, Morris has figured out how to beat defenders one-on-one and deliver dangerous balls into the box from wide areas with increasingly devastating effectiveness. He often does that with his left foot, which used to be cited as a weakness.
While the strides he’s taken as a wide player are evident, Morris told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that he’s still working to refine his game and maximize his potential at the position.
“I said when I switched positions that I still want to be goal-dangerous and try and create chances,” said Morris, the Week 1 Player of the Week. “It’s a little bit more of taking your guy one-on-one, and I feel like that’s something that’s a strength of my game.
“As an attacking player your goal is always to be cleaner in the final third,” he added.” No one’s perfect but when you get those chances, just put them away or put in good balls inside the box. I think there’s times when I get down the line and I still don’t pick people out as well as I want to. I feel like I get a lot of chances to do that, so working on that is always a continuous process.”
Morris also seems to be playing with more confidence, something that ebbed and flowed earlier in his career. Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said his teammate's development on the mental side has been equally impressive to watch.
“He had a great game [against Chicago] and was vital for us, [which] should do well for the confidence, but you’ve got to show up to work, got to get better every day to emulate that next week, or surpass that even,” Frei said. “I think the biggest thing for that is you’ve got to have the right head on your shoulders and I firmly believe Jordan has that."
If 2020 is the year all the pieces come together at once, we might finally see what Morris’ true ceiling really is.