MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – Jordan Morris hasn't yet committed his future to Seattle Sounders FC, but that's where he appears to be headed after Werder Bremen's chief executive officer announced Tuesday that the US national team forward had decided to pursue professional soccer in America.
Clint Dempsey, for one, would be happy to see the 21-year-old phenom at CenturyLink Field.
Dempsey, speaking Tuesday morning at an MLS media roundtable in Southern California, acknowledged that he didn't know whether Morris would decide to join the Sounders, but that he'd be a welcome addition in the Western Conference power's attack.
"There's always room for quality players in a team," Dempsey said at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. "The trick for the manager is how to bring the best out of your team and what positions to play players in to what formation. You have to wait and see what happens with what team you end up having, figure out who's going to play where.
Morris, who led Stanford to the NCAA Division I title last month, then won the MAC Hermann Award as college soccer's top player, had been training with Werder Bremen during their winter camp in Turkey, and reports Monday had the German club offering him a contract.
Werder CEO Thomas Eichen said on his club's website Tuesday that Morris had decided not to join the club.
"Following intense talks, the player made clear that he currently sees his future in America," Eichin said. "Of course, we respect this decision. We're in a situation now where we need players who fully identify with Werder and the way things are done here, in order for them to focus properly on the task ahead. For this reason, we have ruled out a transfer for the time being, but we will remain in close contact with him and are still entertaining the idea of working together in the future."
The Sounders confirmed in November that they had offered Morris, who declared he would turn pro following his junior season last fall, the richest Homegrown Player contract in MLS history. Morris has not made his plans public, but his decision to not play in Germany signals that he'll probably join his hometown club.
Morris' father, Dr. Michael Morris, has been the Sounders' chief medical officer and orthopedic surgeon since the club's inaugural MLS campaign in 2009.
Dempsey said he had not talked to Morris about his decision.
"I've talked to him before," said Dempsey, the former US captain. "But in terms of his decision-making, he probably speaks with his family and stuff like that. The only thing that I've told him the few times that we've spoken was just, kind of, 'Yeah, man, whatever's best for you and what you think for your progression.'"
Morris has made seven full national team appearances, but he and Dempsey have never played together for the U.S.
Dempsey said Morris brings "energy."
"He works really hard," he said. "From the few interactions I've had, he's a good kid. Bright future."
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Dempsey, whose professional career began in 2004 with the New England Revolution, spent 6½ years in England, playing for Fulham and Tottenham. He returned to MLS, with Seattle, in August 2013.
"I enjoyed my time in Europe," he said. "I'm enjoying my time in MLS. MLS gave me the opportunity to go pro in the first place, which allowed me to break into the national team, allowed me to accomplish my dream of playing in the World Cup. Allowed me the opportunity to play in England, and then, ultimately, the opportunity to come back here.
"Everyone has to take their own path, figure out, kind of, what's best for them, what they want out of life, what they want out of soccer. You've got to ask [Morris what he wants]."
Dempsey said it's "not easy" for young American players to start their careers in Europe.
"You live away from your family," he said. "I guess same thing is true depending on where you go to college and where you live in the States, but it's just a different dynamic living in another country and being in a time difference and being away from your family. It's something that I think a lot of people have to adjust to, but, at the same time, I enjoyed my time over there. …
"It was definitely part of my development, made me a better player for going over there and experiencing that, but, at the same time, MLS has made me a better player as well."