SEATTLE – Growing up, this is all Jordan Morris ever wanted to do.
The Seattle Sounders winger is a native of Mercer Island, Washington, and grew up around the team from an early age thanks to his father’s post as the team doctor. Ever since he attended the club’s inaugural MLS match against the New York Red Bulls in 2009, Morris dreamed about putting on a Rave Green jersey, scoring goals at CenturyLink Field and putting up championship banners in the building.
Following his team’s 3-1 victory over Toronto FC in the 2019 MLS Cup on Sunday, Morris has now won two championships in his first four seasons in the league, with this latest victory coming on his home field for the first time. Speaking with reporters in Seattle’s chaotic postgame locker room, Morris said seeing those dreams come to life has been a surreal experience, adding that getting to win this one at home made it an extra special moment for the team and the city.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Morris said. “It’s amazing. It’s just a surreal moment for me personally, for this team, it’s a big moment in this club’s history. I’m just so proud of everyone. It’s been a team effort all year.
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“Walking out, I got emotional, after the game I got emotional knowing that this is my hometown, growing up here I always wanted to play for this team,” he added. “But to win another championship, especially in our hometown, it’s very, very surreal. When we lined up for the national anthem I got emotional because I saw my family up there, I saw my friends — the city just deserves this, how passionate the fans are about this club, it’s really special. …It means everything, getting that win in front of our fans. They deserve it, it’s a super special moment.”
Sunday’s match was certainly a spectacle.
The sellout crowd of 69,274 was the largest for a soccer match in the history of Washington state, and the most people that ever attended a sporting event of any kind in the history of the CLink.
The resulting scene lived up the hype, with the crowd coordinating a full-stadium tifo and bringing the energy and noise throughout the match. The Sounders needed every bit of that boost, too, with their first goal not coming until the 57th minute via right back Kelvin Leerdam after a back and forth first half that saw Toronto press the action.
“I think the biggest release is that when you walk out on the field and you get a little teary-eyed seeing all the people,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “Then the referee blows the whistle and it narrows your focus.
“Then the few moments, our goals, they really rattle you out of your focus and let you explode with emotion. You can’t really describe it.”
If you need any more evidence of what the scene was like on Sunday, the postgame interview with Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey was a good illustration.
Seattle’s GM is normally highly measured — a former lawyer that often speaks about the importance of making logical, data-driven decisions.
After the match on Sunday, Lagerwey dropped that persona for a moment, instead allowing himself to soak in the magnitude of the moment.
“The crowd is the thing,” Lagerwey said. “We had 10,000 people outside the stadium, we had people literally serenading from the concourses to the outside of the stadium to the city before the game started.
“That was the coolest sporting event I’ve ever been to in my life,” he continued. “This is the best Sounders team of all time. That’s something that nobody can take away from us.”