Seattle Sounders rookie forward Jordan Morris scored his second goal of the season and of his professional career. His first, a week prior at CenturyLink Field against the Philadelphia Union, felt like a huge release of pressure for a player whose hype followed him every time he stepped onto the pitch. Morris said that his second goal felt good, it didn't have the same emotional release that the first did. "It helps to get the monkey off your back. There's a lot of pressure to get that first one, so that felt good." He said that it took him a few games to adjust, but that his confidence has been growing the more minutes he plays.
It's clear that Morris is getting used to playing with his teammates, because the chemistry clearly wasn't there for the first part of the season. But now that the rest of the squad sees how Morris plays, they're able to pick out the right passes and get on a similar level on the pitch. "I feel like I've been getting more comfortable making those runs in behind and playing what I consider to be my game a little bit more, and just trying to put that fear in the defenders and play on their backs and shoulders." One of the main talking points earlier in the season is the distinctly different playing styles of Morris and Dempsey, because the former prefers to make runs into space and sit off defenders' shoulders while the latter prefers one-two, give 'n go passes. But Morris says that he's working hard to play Dempsey's game too, that he's "working on the combination play with Clint and the other guys" in the hopes of giving the Sounders new ways to score goals.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has shifted Morris around the front three, starting him at right wing for the first few matches before moving him to center forward in the absence of Nelson Haedo Valdez against the Houston Dynamo. He's since played in both positions, often moving when other players are substituted in, but he says that center forward is where he prefers to play. "Up front is more my natural position but I'll play anywhere to help the team. I think I do feel more confident playing up front, but wherever I play, I just try to go out there, do my best, and work hard."
Seattle went to Colorado without Clint Dempsey and Valdez, leaving Morris to play up front with Herculez Gomez and Oalex Anderson. Morris doesn't seem to blame Seattle's loss and the players' absences, but stressed that both Dempsey and Valdez "are both very good players, when they're not there you're going to notice that. They're both good players going forward. Clint helps create, so it's always tough when you're missing two great players like that." Morris did appreciate starting with Herculez Gomez, recalling that Gomez was very talkative with the young players especially both before and during the match. "Herc's a great player and a great leader. He talked to us young guys before the game and he was always talking during the game so it's easy to play with him on the field."
When asked about the biggest differences between playing college soccer and playing in MLS, Morris said that the two main differences were that "the speed of play [in MLS] is quicker and it's an athletic league full of big, fast, strong defenders that aren't easy to break down." Similarly, Morris credits the academy with helping him get a taste of professional soccer while still in grade school. "It's cool to be in that environment and be surrounded by pros, you come out here and you're watching the first team train and sometimes you end up training with them. It's just a cool environment to be a part of." Since soccer is the only major sport in the United States with that sort of system in place, Morris thinks that it could be a huge boost to American soccer if it were more popular, if kids knew that they could potentially practice with professionals as part of their training.