After Tuesday's training session, I got the sense that Jordan Morris knew what was coming. After the media frenzy that's followed him from Stanford to Germany to Seattle, Morris handles the media like a seasoned pro despite only being a professional soccer player for a few months. When Jurgen Klinsmann left the young forward off the USMNT roster for the Copa America Centenario, Morris surely knew that reporters would ask him about it as soon as they got the chance.
Morris said that Klinsmann had left him a message on Friday, saying that the coach "told me not to take it too hard, that there was a lot of competition." It seems a little crazy that there's even a discussion about whether or not a 21-year-old should have been taken to a major international tournament over Chris Wondolowski, the 33-year-old veteran that Klinsmann decided to take instead of Morris. But the Seattle Sounders forward is a consummate professional, accepting the decision in a very positive way: "I completely respect his decision; there’s a lot of good forwards playing and they’re all playing really well."
Despite being pretty close to Wondolowski in goals scored in MLS play this season (Wondo has 7, but 2 were penalties), Morris acknowledged the veteran's experience and the qualities he'll bring to the US at the tournament. "He's such a good finisher in the box...he just knows how to score goals. He's better than me at that." Morris stressed again that he respects Klinsmann's decision to go with a player with a different skill set than himself, "which is totally understandable." Already looking like a model professional in front of the media, Morris said that he's "excited for [Wondolowski] and I’m excited to watch him."
Morris tweeted this on Saturday, and said on Tuesday that the sentiment was genuine. "I wish those guys all the best; it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer."
Good luck to the boys at Copa! Can't wait to watch . Now, big game tonight. I'm excited to play in front of our great fans #ssfc— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) May 21, 2016
Even though it surely feels like a professional setback to Morris, he clearly wants to flip the situation and use it to drive himself forward and make a difference for the Sounders, especially in the absence of Clint Dempsey. "I just go out and focus on what I'm good at and what I can bring to the table and just try to help the team win. I’m just excited to get games in here and try and get some points for the Sounders."