SEATTLE – Seattle Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey didn’t exactly temper expectations now that former Stanford star Jordan Morris has officially signed with the club.
“Our aspiration is to be one of the greatest soccer clubs in the world,” Lagerwey told media members assembled at a downtown press conference to introduce Morris following the Thursday announcement that he was signed to a Homegrown Player deal. “We believe we can do that. That’s not just talk. That’s not just us trying to pump our chests out and be grandiose. Keeping one of our top Homegrown talents with your club is a massive step toward accomplishing that.”
It may sound premature, considering Morris still has yet to play a game as a professional. But when taking into account the 21-year-old’s ascent from a Sounders youth academy member to one of the most-hyped prospects the United States has produced in recent memory, anything seems possible.
Morris was so good in college that he already has seven US national team caps to his name. Those exploits were enough to land a trial from Werder Bremen of the Bundesliga, where Morris had been training while juggling a decision between returning to Seattle or trying his luck overseas.
In the end, Morris, a native of nearby Mercer Island, said the allure of playing for his hometown club was simply too good to pass up.
“I’ve lived around Seattle for my whole life,” Morris said. “I’ve grown up here following this club in their USL days and MLS days as well. It’s just a huge honor to be back here and I’m excited to be home and get going.
“That was part of the reason that I decided to come here,” he added. “I’ve been in the crowd for so many games. I understand the atmosphere, and I understand how amazing the fans are here.”
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As for exactly what Morris brings to the table on the field, the Sounders now have a youthful addition to a skilled unit of veteran attackers.
Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins comprise what is widely considered to be the league’s most dynamic forward tandem, while Nelson Valdez also showed his own goal-scoring prowess after coming to Seattle as a Designated Player midway through last season.
“[Morris] has got qualities that I think are unteachable qualities,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Qualities that sometimes I’ve tried to teach a player and it just never becomes ingrained or an actual part of their game. So when you have that and you have the commitment to go with it and the dedication to go with it, you’re going to go a long way.”