Jordan Morris signs for Seattle Sounders FC

Jordan Morris, the 21 year old American striker, signed for Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday January 21 after much anticipation from MLS and Bundesliga fans.

In an interview with ESPN, Morris emphasized his loyalty to his boyhood club and city of Seattle: “My heart was in Seattle. This is where my family is, my home’s here… and I feel like its going to be a great learning experience as well.”

Morris’s talent, potential and enthusiastic attitude will provide a young face to represent the MLS, a league that is often seen as a place for retiring greats such as Andrea Pirlo, David Villa, Frank Lampard (all NYCFC players), Steven Gerrard and (formerly) Didier Drogba to play out their last days. Morris also will provide some youth to the aging attacking force of Seattle – out of the four main forwards that wear the Sounders badge, Morris is the only one under 30.

The former Stanford striker that led the team to a College Cup also featured in numerous US Mens National Team appearances, getting the nod from Jurgen Klinsmann for World Cup Qualifying matches and numerous friendlies. He plays an integral role in the US’s under-23 team, which has the opportunity to qualify for the 2016 Olympics with a win against Columbia over two legs.

The “learning experience” that Morris sees he will have will be developed under the mentorship of the main older Seattle strikers, Clint Dempsey (a USMNT legend) and Obafemi Martins, who together have been one of the most prolific goal scoring duos in the league.

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid has stated that he will likely go for a three pronged attach next year to fit Morris into the system, and rotate the four strikers he now has between the three sports for some rest. Schmid has shown his support and enthusiasm for the signing of Morris throughout the process.

There is some question as to whether Morris used Werder Bremen, a struggling Bundesliga side that could be relegated this season, during his 10-day trial with the club to showcase his talent and increase the price Seattle would pay for him to lure him away from attractive European soccer.

However, Werder might have had to pay significant money to Morris’s former clubs, Eastside FC the youth team of Seattle Sounders FC, should they have signed him. In a club statement, Werder Bremen emphasized that they did not want Morris if he wasn’t eager to battle it out at the bottom of the Bundesliga, but maintained that there could be future relations with the player: “We’re in a situation now where we need players who identify with Werder and the way things are done here completely, in order for them to focus properly on the task ahead. For this reason, we are distancing ourselves from a transfer for the time being, but we will remain in close contact with him and are entertaining the idea of working together in the future.”

Morris has been recognized as the type of player who could have in-form and out-of-form periods due to his pace and ability to go directly at goal – these qualities could prove to be his most distinctive and useful, but overusing the traits could limit his progress as a player and make his contribution to the team varied. Schmid will undoubtedly have to experiment with Morris to see how he can best contribute to the team in the three-pronged attack while also fulfilling his potential.

Morris signed through a home grown player contract, the richest in league history. Seattle’s General Management essentially offered Morris the most that they could and waited for a reply.

According to Seattle GM Garth Lagerway, Seattle made their best possible offer for Morris: “As I joked in the press conference, this was the worst negotiation of my career. I read [his father] Dr. Morris the rules and I said ‘Look, this is everything I can pay you. I’ll do everything I can to find more but this is all I got’… We knew Jordan was the player we wanted… We really thought our best chance was if we put our best offer on the table from the get-go, and then stick with it. And that’s what we did.”

While Lagerway has also stated that he is “absolutely positive [Jordan’s signing] wasn’t for the money,” the home grown contract is widely viewed as being created by the MLS for Morris specifically so that he could sign for Seattle, similar to the ‘David Beckham Rule,’ commonly known as the Designated Player Rule. Morris signing for Werder or another European club could have undermined the MLS both in its popularity and its management.

Although there is some doubt as to whether US boss Jurgen Klinsmann really approved of the move, he stated in an interview with ESPN that he is “thrilled that Jordan decided to go pro. This is the really important decision. And I’m thrilled with the Sounders, that he goes into an environment that he knows, that he feels comfortable with.”

Jordan Morris is certainly a player to watch in the future for any MLS or USMNT fans, and this signing could have wider implications for the MLS’s domestic and international popularity.

Source: ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle

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