TUKWILA, Wash. – As Bernard Kamungo hit a blind ball to his centerback, Jordan Morris sprung into action. The Seattle Sounders forward anticipated the pass; bodied 6-foot-2, 187-pound centerback Sebstian Ibeahga off the ball with a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge; sprinted past two defenders; and then beat FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paas with a near-post shot.
A few minutes later, Morris was again in on goal, this time finishing with a calm chip as defenders closed on him. The second goal was ruled offside by the thinnest margins, but taken together the plays ably showcased how Morris is growing into his role as a No. 9, adding refinement to the physical traits he's always possessed and giving the Sounders the kind of imposing attacking figure they'll need to supplement their elite defense if they're to advance to a fifth MLS Cup in eight years.
“We all have this vision of Jordan being this fast, powerful guy, but he offers a lot of different things,” Sounders assistant coach Freddy Juarez said following Friday's training session. “His game has improved in link-up play, his timing of checking in when we’re stuck in our own half. He can threaten in behind, he’s always had that, but he’s added that moment. He’s added the presence in the box.”
Ever since talent evaluators first saw him play as a youth on Mercer Island, they've have raved about his tools. Morris’ speed and power make him appear to be a quintessential No. 9, able to streak in behind defenses and win aerial duels.
But throughout his professional career, coaches have often deployed Morris as a wide midfielder. Morris has enjoyed his fair share of success on both wings, it should be said. In 2019, his first year back from an ACL tear, he had 13 goals and eight assists across all competitions while playing mostly on the right. A year later, he was a borderline MVP candidate with 11 goals and nine assists while mostly playing on the left.