Despite being up a man for more than 70 minutes, registering 21 shots to Seattle’s 4, and out-possessing the home team 74% to 26% at CenturyLink Field, the Black & Gold couldn’t break the 1-1 deadlock on April 28.
In fact, the visitors nearly lost the game in extra time when the same player who scored to put the Sounders in front in the first minute of the game — following a rare errant pass from the usually steady Eddie Segura — managed to get a shot off during a 9-1-1 moment for LAFC’s defense.
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“We’re friends off the field but once we get on that field on Tuesday it all changes so he’s going to try and do everything he can to score and beat us and were trying to do everything we can to beat them,” Miller said ahead of Tuesday's Western Conference Final at Banc of California Stadium (10 pm ET | ESPN in US; TSN1/5, TVAS in Canada).
Following a season-ending ACL injury in the spring of 2018 and a slow recovery, Morris has returned for Seattle in a big way, at just the right time — scoring a hat trick that helped the Sounders knock off FC Dallas in Round One of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs.
“Jordan was [2019 MLS] Comeback Player of the Year and he has really played well of late,” said LAFC boss Bob Bradley, who says his side takes less from their meetings with the Sounders in the past and more from the Rave Green’s recent outings. “He’s fast, his movement off the ball is very good and he has a real way to cause a threat. We have a lot of respect for him and the way he came back from his injury and we’ve got to do a good job especially with his speed and his ability to run from outside-in and get himself facing the goal.”
After missing all of the 2018 MLS season, Morris notched 10 goals and 7 assists for his hometown club during the 2019 regular season. He beat out LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye, himself coming back from a tough injury in 2018, to the MLS Comeback Player of The Year award and his old friend Miller is aware of how much the Sounders' front man is relishing being back on the field in the big moments.
“I think that him being able to come back from an ACL injury, it really meant a lot to him. He’s put in a lot of hard work, he’s had some tough breaks but I’m really happy for him to see him do well and thriving in this league,” Miller said.
But despite the camaraderie they’ve shared in the past, Miller and his teammates are dead-set on making it to their first MLS Cup Final and once the whistle blows tomorrow, that’s all that will matter.
“Tuesday it all changes,” said Miller. “We’re going to do whatever we have to do to win.”