Jordan Morris: Dream of US return pushed me through ACL adversity of 2018

CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. – It took Jordan Morris almost 18 months to return to the US men’s national team picture, perhaps the hardest year and a half of his life.

Morris, 24, suffered a torn ACL last year with the Seattle Sounders during a Concacaf Champions League match in El Salvador against Santa Tecla. The injury saw the forward miss the entire 2018 MLS season and the long road to recovery brought heavy adversity to the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Morris spoke about his time away from the game and how his return to form with his club earned him a call-up to Greg Berhalter’s squad ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Ecuador at Orlando City Stadium (8 pm ET | ESPN2, UniMás, UDN).

“Obviously, it was a really long year,” said Morris. “A lot of ups and downs, but throughout the whole process, my main goals were to work hard and put myself in a position where hopefully I can get called back in. For me, it’s always such an honor to wear the jersey and throughout my rehab, my big motivation was to keep working hard to hopefully be back here.

“For me, it was almost 18 months in what I loved to do was taken away. I definitely have an appreciation now.”

During 2018’s challenges, Morris said he relied on everyone in his circle, including family, friends, teammates and the training staff in charge of helping him get back healthy.

“I never thought I wasn’t going to play again or anything like that,” said Morris. “But there was definitely really, really low points that were very frustrating. Just sitting on the side watching every game. Walking into the stadium and knowing that I was just going up into the stands.”

Morris visited the USMNT training camp in January, and noted what a challenge it is for the new guys to learn Berhalter’s new system with only a couple of days to prepare.

“I think what Gregg’s been saying is that the challenge will be that we only have a couple of days to learn it before the first game,” he said. “For the new guys, since this is their first camp, everyone is buying in, everyone is excited and realizes the progress that his country and staff is helping this team to make.

“So, I think that the guys are really excited and focus and learning. It’s going to make us a tough team to beat.”

Morris had heard good things about Berhalter, adding that he spoke with Christian Pulisic back in January camp and learned a lot about the former Columbus Crew SC coach.

“He’s so detail-oriented, it’s very impressive,” said Morris. “Every little thing is meticulous put together. It makes total sense when you break it down and think about it. He thinks about the game different than anyone I’ve worked with before. For me, it’s awesome to be a part of that.”