It is easy to forget that at this time last year Jordan Morris was barely a professional soccer player. Just a year into his career, the Seattle Sounders forward has certainly put his stamp on the league, winning Rookie of the Year, Sounder at Heart’s Young Player of Year, and an MLS Cup. Both Brian Schmetzer and Sigi Schmid used him on the wing at times, but Morris is usually a forward, both with the United States and with his hometown team. The kid already has a twitter account dedicated to posting a pic of him every day.
The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.
Jordan Morris 2016
Jordan’s ability to separate and shoot at a full sprint is game-changing. Yes, he prefers his right foot and could add a bit more skill with his left. Enjoys sprinting onto a ball into space. Could improve his hold-up play.
Will drop back to provide an outlet. Flexible enough in passing ability to play on either wing, as a center forward or a withdrawn forward. Runs with his head up and looks to pass as appropriate. Can be a target on set-pieces, but heading is not a strength. Still can score with his noggin.
Morris will provide pressure after he or his teammates turn the ball over. This pressure may not be effective. He can be dribbled by above average ball control defenders. Likely misused as a defensive presence on set-pieces. His speed on a counter post-dead ball would cause opposing teams to panic.
Morris has a world class burst and a frame large enough to become a decent hold up player. A decent leaper in attack, but not with someone on his back. One would think he struggles for endurance, but he typically started and went at least 85 minutes in 29 of 42 competitive matches.
Somehow Jordan Morris entered 2016 both over- and under-hyped. He definitely struggled early to adjust to the MLS game, but I think he lived up to even the highest expectations by the end of the season. Even with the growing pains, Morris ended the year the 6th highest Realio-rated player on the Sounders, and, surprisingly, had the most appearances (42) of any Sounders player in 2016. In fact, Morris played in every single game possible between CCL, MLS, and MLS Playoffs. For a rookie, that is just incredible and shows not only physical durability, but the mental toughness to navigate over 40 matches as a professional in a single season. Very impressive stuff.
Jordan started 2016 strong, unintimidated by CCL play, contributing the 3rd highest scores for Seattle. MLS regular season began with a struggle to score early, but when he started to score he was a dynamic and explosive threat who finished cleanly. Morris earned a 6.45 rating in the 20 games coached by Sigi Schmid, along with 3 MOTM awards against weak teams of Philly, Columbus, and San Jose. There were also some growing pains when Morris really struggled to get adequately involved in the offense, and unless he was getting quality service he could get lost in games. Jordan really found his stride in the 14 games after the installation Brian Schmetzer, turning in a phenomenal 6.71 average over the last part of the season and chipping in two more MOTM’s. This improvement as the season went on was readily evident, and you could see the confidence grow in his aggressiveness. Having faith that his runs vertically would be rewarded changed Jordan into a devastating direct option. Morris’ ratings dropped a bit in the playoffs due to fighting some injuries, but his 6.33 over all 6 matches earned him a cumulative season long average of 6.524 – a fantastic grade.
Jordan far outplayed many people’s expectations, and it’s exciting to think how high the ceiling he is nowhere near reaching yet is. Another season with the distribution of Lodeiro and the runs of Dempsey are just about a perfect success recipe for Morris. I expect him to stretch the field no matter where he plays and remain a player capable of turning any game on its head by sheer athleticism. What is even more exciting as an analyst is his tactical awareness is phenomenal and his positioning and soccer instincts should allow him to be even more explosive in 2017.
Best Case 2017:
I’m not saying he will be in the MLS Best XI, but he could be.