TUKWILA, Wash. – When Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid is evaluating how a young player’s game will translate to the professional level, he typically looks at two overarching factors that can help determine whether they’re able to contribute right away or whether they need more time to develop.
“One is, they generally have a very good work ethic about them,” Schmid says. “The second thing is they’re driven. There’s something that really drives them. That drive shows itself in terms of attention to detail and that attention to detail is trying to improve all the time.”
The Sounders have seen at least one example of how far those attributes can take a young player in former star DeAndre Yedlin, who captured the attention of the English Premier League following a standout two-season run in Seattle.
This season, it’s Jordan Morris’s turn.
The highly touted Homegrown rookie comes into Seattle’s Western Conference road matchup with FC Dallas on Saturday night (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE Game of the Week) in the midst of a full-on assault on MLS defenses. After going scoreless in the first seven matches of his pro career, including CONCACAF Champions League action, Morris has now netted in four straight. If he scores against Dallas, he will take sole possession of the rookie record for goals in consecutive games. He’s managed all this at the tender age of 21, with more hype and media attention on his early-career exploits than perhaps any MLS rookie that has ever preceded him.
So, what else separates youngsters of the ilk of Morris and Yedlin from the countless others who require more time to adjust to life in the pros?
“For me, as a coach, what you always measure when you see young guys develop and grow quickly – whether it’s a Yedlin or a Morris or [Sounders midfielder Cristian] Roldan – generally you don’t have to say things to them two or three times,” Schmid said. “You say something to them once and they’ll try and incorporate it and they’ll try and bring into their game and work on it. There’s other guys where you find yourself repeating yourself and it’s probably not sticking.”
Aside from their accelerated learning curve, Yedlin and Morris also seem to share an uncanny levelheadedness when it comes to handling outside noise. The on-field results for Morris have been evident as he looks to score in a fifth straight match against FC Dallas on Saturday.
Following Seattle’s 1-0 victory over Columbus Crew SC on April 30 in which he scored the game-winning goal, Morris also spoke of the increased comfort level that has accompanied his initial foray into the professional ranks.
“[The game] is slowing down a little bit. I think when you make the step up from any level to a higher level, it’s going to be a little fast at first,” he said. “But it’s definitely slowing down and hopefully it will continue to slow down.
“The life of a forward sometimes, you’re going to go through spurts where you’re not scoring goals. You just have to keep going. Keep working hard and the goals will come.”