Jordan Morris: future of the USMNT

By Brandon Boyer, Staff Writer

Published in print Apr. 22, 2015

With the cavernous Alamodome as the backdrop, in front of 64-thousand rabid American and Mexican soccer fans, Jordan Morris turned a field that was akin to a cow pasture into his own personal field of dreams.

The name Jordan Morris probably does not resonate with you or sound remotely recognizable, as it shouldn’t unless you ardently follow college soccer. The 20-year-old forward is a sophomore at Stanford University and was called up to the United States Men’s National Team for a friendly match against archrival Mexico last week.

What makes his situation so unique is the fact that Morris is the first collegiate player to be called up, start and score for the U.S. National Team since Saint Louis midfielder Mike Sorber did it in September of 1992.

That’s right. In his first ever start for the United States against our most fierce rival, the sophomore product from the Seattle Sounders Academy system scored.

“Honestly, I was just excited,” Morris said to Sports Illustrated. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid, to start, especially against a team like Mexico. It was an amazing feeling. I was nervous, but I was excited.”

The speedy forward caught the eye of head coach Jurgen Klinsmann during their pre-World Cup camp last spring during a scrimmage between Stanford and the United States. “We have watched Jordan through our youth national teams and in the Development Academy for the last couple of years, and he is a very promising player,’’ Klinsmann said to SFGate last September. Following that, Morris was first called up to the team for a friendly against the Czech Republic last fall, but he didn’t make an appearance until he came on against a contest against Ireland in November of 2014.

Morris’ story gets even more interesting away from the field of play. Much like another famous athlete in the Seattle region, Morris always brings a bag of candy to his games. Unlike the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch and his undying love for Skittles, Morris brings a gummy bear bag to games for a medical reason. The 2014 All-American forward was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was nine years old and keeps the candy on the bench in case his blood sugar drops during a match. He even has a tattoo on his right arm with the medical symbol “T1D” over it, identifying Morris as diabetic in case of a medical emergency.

Despite a dream start, Morris admitted he had issues adjusting. “[I was] trying to get the nerves out in warmups a little bit,” he said to Sports Illustrated. “I’ve never played in an atmosphere like that before, so it was a little tough to adjust to at first, I guess. But I’m happy when I got the chance I was able to put it away.”

He seemed like a natural in the blue and faded white United States kit, though. If he had nerves, they were dispelled quickly. As he grew into the game, Morris capitalized on a mistake from the Mexican defense, sped in on goal and slotted home the opening goal, sending the attending U.S. faithful in the stands into rapture.

With this performance on such a big stage, Morris could go pro and forego his final two years at Stanford, despite his insistence to finish his collegiate career. If he were to do so, he’d join an increasingly younger and more talented pool of next generation players working their way onto the United States national team.

Gyasi Zardes, a 23-year-old LA Galaxy product, has earned three caps for the national team and has played incredibly in Los Angeles following the departure of Landon Donovan. Both John Brooks and Julian Green play in the Bundesliga in Germany and represented the United States at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And in London, 18-year-old midfielder, Gedion Zelalem has been wowing many of Europe’s best coaches and players whilst playing for the Arsenal Reserves team. He just recently garnered dual citizenship with both the United States and Germany, with both countries soccer associations vying to attract the incredibly talented player to their teams.

Jordan Morris is bound to be a talent to keep an eye on, as he will likely play stateside for the Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer sooner rather than later. Hopefully his career professionally will go as well as his first start for the United States did.

Categories: Sports

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