TUKWILA, Wash. — When Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris returned from Gold Cup duty with the United States, the hope was that his excellent USMNT form would carry over to his club form. Morris made his first full start since returning from the Gold Cup last weekend, and he took full advantage of it by scoring his first goal for Seattle since late April. Ever humble, Morris said on Monday that “it felt good, but I still know I can be cleaner in front of goal.”
With the Sounders team set up like it is, there’s a bit less pressure for Morris to score when he lines up wide in Brian Schmetzer’s 4-2-3-1 rather than his preferred position up top. Morris has been much less of a scoring threat this season, but Schmetzer said that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “His contributions to the team are far more than just the numbers behind the goals and assists.” Since the Sounders have a number of other players in excellent scoring form, Schmetzer said Morris can focus on helping his teammates and tapping into some of his other skills—like “scaring people” on the pitch. “I mean the first time he touched the ball and blew by the guy [against Minnesota], that opened up the field for us, for our other attacking players.”
It’s unlikely that Morris doesn’t wish he were scoring more, but he also knows that right now, his role is to do whatever he can to help the team. Even after bagging his goal, Morris said “the win is what was most important” to him after the match. He said the Sounders’ attack is finally starting to click as of late, and the main goal is to keep that chemistry going through the rest of the season.
Bruin may have supplanted Morris up top for now, but he said playing with the ex-Houston forward has been great for him and the team as a whole. “He’s done really well, he’s a lot of fun to play with because he works really hard. You always know you’ll get a great effort out of him, and he makes it tough for the center backs by holding the ball up and getting the ball to Clint or Nico and open up spaces for other players.”
It’s also notable that Morris isn’t the only player to experience a “bump” in form post-Gold Cup. Both Dempsey and Cristian Roldan returned from USMNT duty in excellent form. Schmetzer said that boost has, in turn, helped the entire team earn the seven-match unbeaten streak they currently hold. “ It’s taken us awhile to get out of our little MLS Cup hangover, and they’ve been putting it in here in training.”
While Schmetzer praised Morris and the rest of the Sounders’ high-flying attack for their performance against Minnesota, fixing up their defensive issues is their most significant task leading up to this weekend’s match against Sporting KC. “We’re obviously pleased with the offensive output of the team the past few games, it’s been really, really good. We just had to revisit a few general principles of how we’re going to defend and how we’re going to get clean sheets.” Luckily for the Sounders, the chances that Minnesota did get (especially at the start of the second half) either lacked good finishing or were saved by Stefan Frei.
Despite getting a bit lucky at times on defense, the Sounders played well against a Minnesota team with its back against the wall. Morris praised their opponents, saying “when you play on the road, it’s always tough no matter who you’re playing. To get four goals out of that is a good sign to keep moving forward.” Schmetzer echoed with a sentiment he often shares regarding league play: “any team in this league can beat any other team on any given day.” Moving forward, the Sounders just want to take the three points, use it as a learning experience, and improve on all their mistakes before their next match. Schmetzer said his philosophy for the team right now is simply to “shore up the defending, continue to attack like we do, next game’s next game.”