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Jordan Morris shows he can succeed on wing

Morris' first professional goal came from a wide position.

Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

When Jordan Morris scored his first professional goal, you could sense the relief. It was way back in December when he had last scored in a competitive match, going scoreless in a pair United States national team games, two more for the U23s and in his first seven Seattle Sounders matches. In all, his goal-less run had stretched to 764 minutes.

Especially recent games, the weight of expectations had seemingly started taking their toll as Morris had only managed to squeeze off three shots in his first five MLS appearances.

Brad Evans confirmed as much in postgame comments: "Yeah, right after the goal I said, ‘That's it, the flood gates are now open,' and he said, ‘Finally,' and kind of looked up to the sky so you hope that's the one that breaks the bank and they keep flowing from here on out."

Along with the sense of relief, most of the attention being paid to Morris' performance was how well he took the goal. Andreas Ivanschitz deserves credit for putting in a great ball, but Morris' first touch off his thigh was perfect and he didn't waste any touches before beating Andre Blake with the outside of his right boot. It was the kind of goal Morris built his reputation on: using his speed and touch.

On Monday, Sigi Schmid pointed out one aspect of the goal that had gone largely unnoticed: Morris' run.

Plenty of commentators have suggested part of Morris' recent struggles was Schmid's decision to use him mostly as a right-sided forward in a 4-3-3. Morris has mostly played as a center forward for Stanford and the United States national team. And although it's true that Morris started Saturday's game as a center forward, he moved to the right after Nelson Valdez entered in the 62nd minute and was there when he scored. Replays confirmed as much.

"I think a lot of people missed that," Schmid said. "He made a run in on a diagonal from the right wing. Which when he was playing right wing, that's what we told him to do. He's just getting more comfortable playing on our team, in our a league and with our players."

It's probably true that Morris is more comfortable in the middle of the park, and it makes sense for the Sounders to give him some looks there. But it's always seemed a bit too convenient to look at his starting spot and stop the analysis there. Good players put themselves in dangerous spots no matter where they are deployed. Morris has now proven himself capable of making these adjustments. Being able to deploy Morris from multiple positions gives the Sounders more options and makes him a more effective player. That's probably even better than if he had looked dominant playing in the middle.

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