COUNTRY: United States
CLUB: Seattle Sounders FC
YEARS PRO: 2
Perhaps no player on the 24 Under 24 list is more familiar to a wider swath of North American fans than Jordan Morris. The Seattle Sounders and US national team forward arrived in the league last year with plenty of fanfare, and largely lived up to the hype. The soon-to-be 23-year-old won 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year with 12 goals and four assists in 34 regular season games, and recorded two more goals and one more helper in six playoff games as Seattle went on to win their first MLS Cup.
A powerful, fast forward who can play centrally and on the flank, Morris has dealt with some injury issues and a decrease in overall production this year. Still, he’s maintained his status as a contributor on the USMNT and, with a few improvements to his game, should continue to be one of the more dangerous front-line attackers in MLS.
What the technical staffers say:
"He’s got some big shoes to fill. I think he has all the qualities to become a really good player. Unfortunately, he has not, this year, made that decision quick enough to be able to score goals and help Seattle in that department. But I think he’s going to do well. The more he plays for the national team, the more he’s exposed to that kind of level, I think he’s going to keep growing. Unfortunately, this year he has not really reached that level that we think he can get."
"We play in a physical league. Most of the defenders are physical. They’re big, so he’s going to get punished every game. So he needs to be able to keep himself on the field as much as he can. But he’s quick. He’s strong. I think that he needs to get more experience to keep himself on the field longer than he’s doing today."
"I think he looks this year like someone who spent a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, because he looks like he’s even gotten more top-heavy. I don’t know that he had to get any bigger or stronger. I think he already had – his physical attributes were already off the chart. So I don’t know how it affects him moving laterally, changing directions. But he’s an absolute handful – and the fact that he can play wide or centrally, he’s someone that when you prepare for playing in Seattle, you have to be absolutely conscious of where he is in the field, because I think they can put him in different spots to get ideal matchups to maximize what he does."
"I think he has to do the heavy lifting for Dempsey defensively, and I think that’s kind of underrated in how hard he works on both sides of the ball. Not just finishing chances, but he also presses hard and plays hard on both sides of the ball."
"The biggest strength he has is his pure athleticism. He has absolutely no doubt in his mind, when I watch him play, that he can run past you every single time. And I think that for an American player playing up front, understanding what your biggest strength is and understanding that it’s going to change with the team where you play – if you can make adjustments to your strength, you’ll be successful."
"I think one of the biggest things that he’s also done is, it looks to me as I watch him play, that he’s consistently working on the variation of how he’s finishing. So he doesn’t look as uncomfortable in certain scenarios that I thought he did when he first came into the league. Coming out of college, I thought he was very good at getting in behind and finishing from there, but what I’ve noticed is he’s started to strengthen his finishing in different situations."
"The biggest thing for Jordan is, he finishes a lot of chances, but he has enough chances to finish even more. He's got to become a bit more lethal in front of goal in order to kind of keep proving how valuable he really is. But overall, I don’t know if there’s a player in this league under the age of 24 that’s as worrisome to play against."
"Many of his chances are off-ball movement created from someone else, in terms of service. I do think he needs to sharpen his skills 1v1 in order to create chances for himself. At the same time, if it ain’t broke, don’t break it. The closer he is to goal, the more he seems to find chances, creating on his own or not. He’s the kind of guy that the more you get him in front of goal, the more you let him play along the back line, the more chances he’s going to get, regardless of how those chances are coming."