Amidst all the cameras clicking, all the microphones being shoved into his face and the questions being asked, Jordan Morris wore a calm smile. He joked about how he "used to be so bad at interviews," talked about how he'd be living with his family in their Mercer Island home for the immediate future, reminisced about following the Seattle Sounders in their USL days and spoke glowingly of the emotions and energy he felt when he attended the team's first-ever MLS match.
And at the end of it, he posed for a picture with his mom, dad and siblings. A family who, by the way, only needed to hop in their cars and drive a few minutes across I-90 bridge to join him.
Sure, Morris did his due diligence. He followed the advice of his coaches with the United States national team, he went on the trial with Werder Bremen. It may have given Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer a bit of indigestion, but Morris' heart was always in Seattle, he made that much clear during Thursday's introductory press conference.
"In talks with Jurgen [Klinsmann] and Andi [Herzog], they helped set up that trial there," Morris said. "I knew I wanted to come home. It was a cool experience, but it reaffirmed my desire to play at home and in front of 45,000 fans at CenturyLink. It was a cool experience, but I'm more than excited to be at home."
There have been plenty of people who will spin this sentiment as proof that Morris simply took the easy route, that somehow playing in front of a group of fans who have higher expectations for him than any other in the world is a lack of pressure. It's the same kind of stuff he's been hearing since he first burst onto the national scene and repeatedly chose to go back to college.
But both he and the Sounders spoke repeatedly about how there's no "right" path to becoming a top player. There's no empirical data that proves going to Europe is better than playing in MLS or that turning professional at 20 is better than going pro at 21. Each player develops at their own pace, and what might be the best surroundings for one player might not be the best for the other.
What everyone should want is for Morris to go somewhere he's allowed to flourish. The Sounders are convinced this is that spot.
"There is no soccer organization in the world, full stop, who cares more about the development of Jordan Morris as a soccer player and a young man than the Sounders," majority owner Adrian Hanauer said. He then turned to Morris and added "You have our commitment to repay your loyalty to this team to provide all the resources necessary to make you successful."
Hanauer called the recruitment of Morris a 10-year project, dating it back to the Sounders' first hired Morris' father as the team physician. He called the Sounders organization a family, one that includes everyone from the players to club officials to the fans and media, and that Morris' signing was just another part of that. Hanauer mentioned the importance of tradition, how he first fell in love with the Sounders in their NASL days and how he hopes to instill that throughout the academy ranks.
Morris seemed to understand that as well as anyone, and while he had other opportunities none were nearly as enticing as this one.
"There's no set path for everyone to follow," he said. "The talks I had with Sigi and Adrian, were done with all respect and there was no bad blood at all. They understood that I needed to follow the path I needed to follow and I believed it would lead me here, I just needed to get the timing right.
"I knew in my heart this was where I wanted to be."