One of the more controversial lineup moves made by US manager Jurgen Klinsmann at the Copa America Centenario came at the semifinal stage. It involved slotting in San Jose Earthquakes penalty-box poacher Chris Wondolowski in place of the suspended Bobby Wood, who started the previous four matches and stood out for his tireless, powerful runs in behind the opposing back line.
Wood’s suspension left many US fans wondering something. What if Klinsmann had brought Seattle Sounders youngster Jordan Morris to camp instead of Wondolowski? The selection which proved one of the talking points following the squad selection.
Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told SiriusXM FC on Friday that he thinks Morris would have made for a more natural replacement.
“I think he could’ve helped them [the US national team],” Schmid told Eric Wynalda during the Friday night edition of the Wynalda Talks Football WTF show. “His skill set, the qualities he brings on the field are similar to what Bobby Wood brings on the field. Wondo’s is a different skills set so it changes a little bit for you. So it’s more of a like-for-like replacement.”
But the comparisons between Wood and Morris don’t end there for Schmid.
“I really think that Jordan is probably where Bobby Wood was maybe two years ago, as Bobby was coming up and developing,” he continued. “So still, sometimes his decision making on which runs to make — all that can get better. Consistently finishing — all that can get better.
“But certainly, I think once Bobby Wood went out, Jordan would have been more of a like-for-like replacement and would have not changed as much how the team played. And you could’ve left [Gyasi] Zardes on the right side and you wouldn’t have had to move Zardes inside.”
The exclusion of Morris from the US team raised a few eyebrows, because Klinsmann consistently called up the 21-year-old Morris before he even turned pro. The MLS rookie had also been on a run of four goals in five matches before the final squad was announced, compared to the four goals in seven matches by the 33-year-old Wondolowski.
Since being left off the US squad, Morris has one goal in four league starts for the Sounders, who lost three of those four matches. They host NYCFC at CenturyLink Field on Saturday evening (5 pm ET on ESPN in US; MLS LIVE in Canada).
But Schmid is not about to lose patience with his Homegrown star, and he noted how his assistant coach, former MLS forward Ante Razov, has been working with Morris on finer details of the position, like getting his feet right when striking the ball.
“I think he’s pretty much on track. He’s getting better each day at practice. We’re working on things,” Schmid told Wynalda. “If as a rookie, you can score a goal every other game, you’re probably doing a pretty good job. So he’s on track. Obviously, when you’re not winning games as often as we would like, you want him to be on a little faster track.”