BOSTON – While his Stanford teammates were squaring up against Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday, Jordan Morris stood on the other side of the country, on another pitch, on the campus of another prestigious university, training with the US national team at Harvard’s Ohiri Field.
Three days after scoring the game winner for the Cardinal in Louisville, Morris received the call from Jurgen Klinsmann that his services were needed after the USMNT’s 2-1 win over Peru on Friday, along with Michael Bradley and Sean Johnson. Morris’ call for Tuesday’s match against Brazil (8 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMas) hinged on the health of Seattle striker Clint Dempsey, who was scheduled to join the national team over the weekend, following his outing with the Sounders on Saturday.
“The late call in came based on Clint not being 100 percent yet,” Klinsmann said Monday. “So, I kind of had him on an alert that if Clint doesn’t feel like it’s 100 percent. I also intended to have Jordan with us for a couple of days just to regroup with us, to be back with the group, again, prior to a very crucial moment. He was obviously thrilled.”
Morris’ roll in Tuesday match will certainly be crucial to his next move for U.S. Soccer.
There is still an opportunity for him to impress enough to get the invite to join the senior team when they battle Mexico on Oct. 10 in the CONCACAF Cup for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup. On the other hand is the opportunity to help the US U-23 team qualify for the Olympics in the first half of the same month.
While Klinsmann has yet to make a decision on where the 20-year-old may wind up, Morris himself would jump at either opportunity.
“I think [Klinsmann] kind of said that he’s not quite sure yet what’s going to happen with that,” said Morris. “Obviously, either one would be such an honor, trying to qualify for the Olympics or trying to qualify for the Confederations Cup. Either one would be amazing.”
In the meantime, Morris is trying to juggle all that comes with being a junior in college, a standout at the NCAA level and a curious, budding commodity within the national team ranks.
He admits the best way to handle the maelstrom is to simply keep the focus with where he is standing, which is now on firmer footing following mid-summer surgery to repair a stress fracture in one of his legs.
“I’m feeling good,” the Seattle Sounders Academy product said. “It was definitely a tough summer, going through my first surgery wasn’t fun. I’m back now, working hard at Stanford, and the knee’s feeling great. I think recovering pretty well.
“You just kind of got to go day-by-day. Wherever you are, you just got to put your focus on that. While I’m here, I’m just focused on this team and working hard to help in any way that I can. Then when I’m back in school, just really staying focused with them, working hard with them and just pushing in every way that I can to help my Stanford team do well.”
The 16th-ranked Cardinal are off to a 2-1-0 start to the season, with Morris scoring once thus far. And Klinsmann is certainly keenly aware of his exploits.
“Jordan is just getting better every game right now playing with Stanford,” Klinsmann said. “I had people out there actually watching his games.”
As for the game he missed on Sunday, Stanford pulled off a 2-0 win in Morris’ absence, giving Klinsmann less of a reason to feel bad for pulling him away.
“He misses one college game, last night, and they won it anyways,” Klinsmann said with a smile. “So, it’s all good.”