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Jordan Morris exchanges praise with Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore ahead of MLS Cup Final

The USMNT teammates had many nice things to say about each other

Soccer: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying-Trinidad & Tobago at USA Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Among the many storylines that have popped up ahead of Saturday’s MLS Cup final, one that is of particular interest beyond just Seattle and Toronto is the matchup of the three US national team regulars expected to start. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are expected to start for Toronto FC, while 2016 Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris should start for the Seattle Sounders. While trash talk might be expected, the trio have only spoken positively about each other so far in the week leading up to the big Cup final.

Michael Bradley, captain of both the United States National Team and Toronto FC, said this week that he’s a “big fan of Jordan’s.” He praised Morris’ “unique” qualities, like his “speed, nose for the goal...but what makes him more unique is when you start adding in the type of kid that he is, the mentality that he has.” For a guy like Bradley, who said that he’s been “around a lot of young, highly-talented players,” he said that Morris might just be at the top of the list. They’ve spent plenty of time together on USMNT duty at this point. Bradley said that he’s “very happy for [Morris] on a personal level.”

Bradley even took his praise to another level, attributing much of the Sounders’ huge late season run not just to Nicolas Lodeiro, but also to Morris. He used Morris’ goal in Colorado as an example of how the rookie “has put [the Sounders] on his back.”

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore had even more great things to say about Morris, which makes sense—his career started kind of similarly to Morris’. High expectations at a young age, especially at an international level, was something that Altidore relates with all too well. “It's not easy. At that age, you're not equipped yet to deal with all the things that come,” Altidore said. “Hopefully, he's at the point now where he's gone through all that and he's just focused on being the best player he can be because he has quite a bright future.”

But now, after Morris has progressed through his stellar first season and earned quite a few honors, Altidore said that “to see him grow, become the player he is today, everybody is pleased for him. We're all cheering for him, happy with his progression.”

The Toronto forward, however, did admit that he’d be okay if Morris was “not as good” in Saturday’s match. His praise for Morris goes back even further than their international duty together, to a closed-doors friendly between the USMNT and Stanford while Morris was still a student. Apparently the national side beat the college students by five or six goals, but Morris happened to score the lone goal for the Cardinal. “I remember looking over at Andi Herzog, saying, 'Is it too late to bring this guy along with us to Brazil?' He was terrific.”

After hearing about all this praise, Morris responded today with his own compliments for his national teammates. He said that Altidore and Bradley were “two of the guys that right from when I went into the national team, they took me under their wing.” He said that both players have “been so supportive of me throughout the whole process. I can’t say enough about those guys.”

Morris entered the USMNT picture when he was still a college student, which added even more weight to an already difficult situation. “Going into a new situation like that with the national team, I was pretty nervous,” Morris said, “but having those guys there and knowing that they have my back and think that I deserve to be there is awesome.” He also echoed Altidore’s comments about Saturday’s match: “obviously when we step on the field we’ll be competitors,” said Morris, “but after the game it’s back to being friends.”

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