The Seattle Sounders' 23-year-old attacker, who has steadily risen with the national team since debuting in 2014 while still at Stanford University, has worked more on the flanks in a three-front – with the US and Seattle – than up top. But he spent time in both spots in Sunday evening's scoreless draw with Bosnia and Herzegovina at StubHub Center.
He created chances in both roles, nearly scored twice while up front, then faced the question that's dogged him all along.
Where would he rather play? What's his best position?
“Definitely up front,” Morris said. “That's where I feel most comfortable and most dangerous. That's where I prefer to play, but [I'll play] wherever I can help the team.”
“We started him in a wide position, and the way we wanted him to use minutes in that position [was] to come inside and join in with CJ,” interim US coach Dave Sarachan said during his postgame news conference. “I thought his activity on that end was very good.
Morris vs. BIH. | German Alegria/LA Galaxy
“When we moved him up top in the second half, he provided what he always provides. The guy is a workhorse. [Bosnia and Herzegovina] were a team that didn't concede a lot, but Jordan found his moments to get in behind, and he created some good chances. … Overall, he did what forwards should do: be dangerous.”
Most of the best US chances involved Morris. His work on the left led to a Sapong header from close range in the 38th minute, and he nearly connected with Rowe from the right five minutes into the second half.
A minute later, he could have fired the US ahead. A gorgeous Wil Trapp chip from just inside the midfield stripe found Morris in the Bosnian box, and he eluded defenders with a touch to the right. Goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic came out to cut off Morris' angle, so he took the ball farther to the right, then drilled a shot just past the right post.
“I tried to go around the goalie, and I just couldn't wrap my foot around the ball,” Morris said. “Maybe I could have taken another touch or tried to chip it over him. Hindsight's always 20:20.”
He had another opportunity in the 80th minute, when Juan Agudelo delivered a cross into the box and Rowe gently volleyed it forward toward Morris. He had a few options, to take a touch, turn and finish or try to volley it toward the near post. He chose to take the touch, and defender Daniel Graovac – outstanding all game for Bosnia – stepped in to take the ball away.
“I took a bad first touch,” Morris acknowledged. “It was a great play by Kelyn, and if I'd taken a better first touch, maybe I could have gotten a shot off. ... Potentially, I could have [tried to volley it]. Would have been a tough one.”
Morris, who won his 25th cap, understands that he could, likely will, be asked to shift between roles for the US and Sounders. He'll do whatever's asked.
“Wherever the team puts me, I'll play, but I'm hoping I can play up front a little more, because that's where I feel most comfortable,” he said. “But [I'll do] whatever gets me on the field and whatever I can do to help.”