There's been a lot of news coming out about Jordan Morris in the last few days and we understand that it can be a little confusing if you're not tethered to the Internet at all hours of the day. With that in mind, we're here to answer all of "your" questions.
Can we start with the tl;dr version?
Sure. Jordan Morris has announced that he's going pro, but has not yet decided where he'll play.
Wait a minute, I thought I read that he WAS signing with the Sounders?
You did! Well, you probably read that he was expected to sign here, but things have gotten a bit more complicated in the meantime.
Although the Sounders were offering a contract that would have been the richest ever for a Homegrown Player, Morris decided to explore his options. He's now getting ready to head to Turkey where he'll train with Werder Bremen, presumably with the hope of being offered a contract.
Did the Sounders lose him, then?
One of the rules of being a salesman is "Never let the buyer leave without making the sale." So, it's definitely safe to say this is not a good development from the Sounders' perspective. How bad it is really depends on your perspective. Obviously, a lot of buyers end up going home, thinking about the product and ultimately buying it anyway. It should be noted the Sounders were also aware of Morris' intentions to train with Bremen and even termed the contract negotiations "cordial."
What do we know about Werder Bremen?
For most of their recent history, they've been a solidly mid-table Bundesliga team. They won the whole league as recently as 2003-04 and were runners-up as recently as 2007-08. Last year, they were 10th and averaged nearly 41,000 fans per match.
But does signing Morris make sense?
He's a free transfer who is getting semi-regular call-ups to a decent national team at 21 years old, and will join the USMNT camp later this month. A former Bremen star -- and current USMNT coach -- is among those singing his praises. So, he's probably of some interest to a lot of teams. Bremen's coach also has an affinity for playing younger players, which would bode well for Morris. But they've also got a bunch of young attacking talent, so competition for time would be fierce. (We actually wrote a whole story about this.) It's safe to assume he's going to have to do more than simply show up to get a contract offer.
How bad do MLS and the Sounders look if Morris bounces?
It's not a great look, but it's no red-carpet disaster, either. There's never really been a prospect like Morris before -- a collegian with USMNT caps -- and it's no secret that playing in a top European league remains the goal of most of the world's best players. Signing Morris would be a nice feather in the cap of everyone involved, but the idea that this signing will affect the next potential signing doesn't seem particularly likely.
But it surely messes with the Sounders' plans, right?
To the degree that Morris is a player they wanted very badly, yes. There's no way around the fact that there are no other players in the Sounders Academy who appear to have Morris' upside. The Sounders are better with Morris than without him today and years down the line. And even if he only played here for a year or two, at least the Sounders would get a transfer fee out of it. But the offseason plans weren't built around an assumption Morris would be here.
Does Morris look bad in any of this?
Not from our perspective. The reality is the Sounders invested one Academy year, some periodic training sessions and probably a few good words with U.S. Soccer on Morris' behalf. They did all this knowing that Morris could sign with someone else, and not simply out of the goodness of their hearts. All parties involved know this is a business and are doing what's best for them. Morris deserves that same consideration.
What do the Sounders get if he signs elsewhere?
In a world where USSF and MLS recognized solidarity payments, the Sounders would be due some compensation for the time Morris spent in their academy (the other youth teams Morris paid for would be in line for payment too). Of course, USSF and MLS have only recently even begun to seriously consider recognizing this sort of payment and certainly have not yet given teams the go-ahead to start accepting them.
Is there a possibility Morris plays in MLS, but for someone other than Sounders?
This is MLS, so we've learned to never say "never," but it would almost certainly require the Sounders to trade Morris' rights. There's not really any precedent for a player who the league really wants refusing to play for the team that holds his Homegrown Player rights. It's not outside the realm of possibility Morris could force his way into the SuperDraft, but that doesn't seem remotely likely and certainly wouldn't get him more money.
Any reason to think Morris actively doesn't want to play for Sounders?
Nothing obvious, that's for sure. What this looks like is a young, talented athlete exploring all of his options while he still has that chance. The reality is for as much loyalty as he might feel toward the Sounders -- a team he grew up rooting for and for whom his father has worked as team physician for more than a decade -- he'd be kind of crazy to just accept any offer without seeing what else is out there. Maybe he's intrigued by the idea of living abroad. Maybe he's been convinced he absolutely has to step outside his comfort zone. Maybe he trains with Werder Bremen and finds out it's not what he's looking for.
When will he make a final decision?
That's impossible to know for sure, but the timeline seems to be 2-3 weeks. Morris is scheduled to join the United States training camp on Jan. 20, and it makes sense that he'll have made a decision by then.
What do the Sounders do in the meantime?
The Sounders have not-so-quietly been expressing their worries that this exact scenario would play out for quite some time. Ever since Morris broke in with the national team, they've felt as though Jurgen Klinsmann was pushing their star pupil toward Europe. If Morris signs elsewhere, it won't be a huge shock. But Lagerwey also said they are comfortable with the forwards they have, three of whom are Designated Players. Last summer's signings were made with an eye on this season as well. They are not wanting for goal-scoring threats at forward. If they fall flat this year, it won't be because they simply failed to sign Morris.