Morris, Roldan providing mutual support at US national team summer camp

NASHVILLE — Seattle Sounders fans – and lovers of any good buddy romp tale – found extra to celebrate when Bruce Arena named his 23-man roster for the start of the US national team's Gold Cup. Not only did he give a nod to youngster Jordan Morris again, but he also called up his best bud, Cristian Roldan, for his first US cap. Yes, the famous “Jorstian Mordan” was headed to summer (US national team) camp.

With the squad spending nearly the last two weeks together in Nashville, then, how has the friendship blossomed on the national team level? Quite heart-warmingly indeed, with Morris and Roldan teaming up for warm-up drills, or just helping with pre-training setup, in tandem.

And before the Yanks’ last pre-Gold Cup training session, at Nissan Stadium, Morris himself said he has been glad to shepherd Roldan through the first-camp jitters as both vie for playing time vs. Panama this Saturday (4:30 pm ET, FOX, TSN, Univision, UDN). 

“It’s been good to have him around. I think for him, having a familiar face here is helpful, too. My first few camps I came in and I was pretty timid and nervous, being the young guy. I told him to just go out there and play with confidence,” Morris said. “We’re very lucky to be here. He’s doing really well. He’s a good player, and he adapts to situations quickly so he’s done great.”

But as much as their friendship adventure has softened some stressful edges, Morris himself says he’s taken this opportunity to tweak some important details and solidify his return to the national-team fold. 

“It’s been good coming here and talking to coaches. I think one of the big things they’ve been stressing is that slowing down in front of goal and not going at the same speed,” he said. “Instead of breaking through and going pretty quickly, you’ve got to take a breath, so I’ve improved on that and hopefully I can keep improving.”

Morris, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this year, missed out on the US’ last match-up vs. Panama, in Panama this past March for World Cup Qualifying. So he knows that any such crucial improvements – plus Gold Cup performance — will prove extra-important in the competition for a spot in the World Cup rotation. 

“For me it’s just the kind of final third part of the game, working on the final product, my finishing,” he said. “A lot of guys are trying to show [their skills] as best as they can and hopefully put their name in potentially for next summer.”