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Jordan Morris swears he didn’t have flu

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But if calling it a “flu game” is what it takes to get people to recognize his achievements, that’s just fine.

It wasn’t a literal flu game, but Jordan Morris turned in a le...

It wasn’t a literal flu game, but Jordan Morris turned in a legendary performance.

Posted by Sounder at Heart on Monday, November 28, 2016

Legends are tricky things. The best ones are at least rooted in fact. There are, of course, others that are so loosely moored in reality that they do a disservice. But the reason we call them “legends” and not “history” is at least partly because there’s an assumption that they aren’t entirely true.

We’re only a few days removed from Jordan Morris’ so-called “flu game” performance that effectively clinched the Seattle Sounders’ spot in their first-ever MLS Cup final, so it’s obviously impossible to know how much of what happened will become any sort of sporting legend.

Before I get too far ahead of myself a quick recap is probably in order: Morris got sick a couple days before the game, wasn’t feeling entirely healthy the day of the game, scored the winning goal anyway and, just for good measure, managed to play all 90 minutes despite twice suffering what appeared to be a somewhat serious knee injury.

A few Twitter accounts (including ours) introduced the idea and MLSsoccer.com kinda ran with the narrative. The general theme of him at least possibly having the flu, has certainly caught on as a common theme.

The moment when you realize you’re going to MLS Cup.
Joe Towner/@PNWmf

I’m not in the business of ruining anyone’s fun -- and certainly don’t think I’m capable of controlling the broader narrative as this game fades into the annals of history — but it’s important to at least try to set the record straight, and that requires me to share that Morris has firmly denied that he had the actual flu. Sick? Yes. But nothing as serious as the flu.

“It wasn’t terrible,” Morris recently told ExtraTime Radio. “It definitely wasn’t the flu. It was either some food poisoning or some 48-hour virus that I had going on. It was two nights before the game that I was up all night, feeling pretty sick. But the day of the game, I woke up feeling a little bit better, but definitely not great.

“From what I’d experienced before with actually having the flu, I knew it wasn’t that and that hopefully it was just a little virus like it was.”

Just for good measure, he’s also roundly disputed the idea that Thanksgiving dinner got him sick: “I think if it was the Thanksgiving food, it would have come on a little sooner so I don’t think it was from Thanksgiving.”

None of that should diminish what Morris actually did, though.

Regardless of how sick he was in the days before the most important match of his professional career, Morris was at least weakened. Let’s also keep in mind that this is by far the most minutes Morris has played in a year. Even last year, when he was playing for Stanford as well as both the United States U23 and full USMNT he played about 2,000 minutes. He’s going to exceed that number by more than 1,500 just including his time with the Sounders and he’ll come close to doubling that total once national team duty is factored in.

This is why so many MLS rookies tend to hit the wall around September or October, their bodies simply are not used to logging that many minutes.

That Morris isn’t only avoiding the “rookie wall,” but actually playing some of his best soccer this time of year is pretty amazing in its own right. That he’s apparently doing it while battling illness and shrugging off knee injuries is even more amazing.

Admittedly, telling the story like that doesn’t quite have the punch of “flu game!!!!!” but it’s worth our admiration nonetheless. And if history decides to look back on Morris’ performance against the Rapids with a little embellishment ... that’s fine too.