U.S. national team forward Jordan Morris ended the biggest speculation of the offseason last week. Morris decided last Tuesday that he would sign the biggest homegrown player contract with the Seattle Sounders, forgoing his senior year at Stanford.
Morris had previously been considering playing for German side Werder Bremen. He had been trying out for the squad thanks to U.S. national team assistant coach Andi Herzog, a former player for Bremen. Morris cited “homesickness” as his reason for choosing Seattle over Werder Bremen.
In the wake of the decision, there’s been debate over whether or not turning down a Bundesliga will hurt Morris’ development in the long run. It’s more or less an age old debate about whether U.S. national team players are better off in MLS or over in Europe, and it’s been beaten like a dead horse.
With that in mind, I’m focusing on the other side of the equation — the Seattle Sounders.
The Sounders are coming off another disappointing season. They fell on penalty kicks to FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals and still have yet to take home the coveted MLS Cup.
But if Sounders fans are expecting Morris to be the exact answer to Seattle’s MLS Cup question, they might want to pump the breaks, at least at the moment.
Before I continue, I should take this opportunity to state that I’m an FC Dallas supporter and not the biggest fan of Seattle. But I’m a fan of MLS, and I’m interested in how Morris turns out.
But I don’t honestly don’t see Morris making an immediate impact for the Sounders in 2016. For starters, Morris has to make the jump from the collegiate level to the professional level, which is not an easy task no matter the sport. At Stanford, he was a big fish in a small pond; in MLS, he’s a small fish in a big pond. He won’t be able to pick on poor little defenders. Back lines at the professional level make sure he has a very hard time finding the back of the net.
Also, there’s a chance that Morris will find himself buried on the Sounders’ bench. Obafemis Martin, Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez all likely could get more playing time over Morris. There are only so many minutes to go around for players, especially forwards, and if Morris can’t get onto the pitch, he definitely won’t make an impact.
Of course, he could just as easily play his way onto the pitch with he play in practice. He has shown flashes of great potential in his time with the U.S. national team, even if it’s a much smaller sample size. And he did help Stanford to a national title this year.
But it’s not exactly the best idea to bank on Morris being the savior for the Sounders this year. He’s not a proven commodity yet and I’m always hesitant crowning guys that come in with so much hype around them. Maybe he proves me wrong, but Morris’ signing doesn’t make the Sounders the MLS Cup favorites yet.