It is a memorable moment when a player receives their first call to join their national team on the international stage.
When Sounders FC Academy forward Jordan Morris got the call to join the U-20 National Team at last week’s training camp, he will no doubt think of the moment he heard the news. He left his Spanish class at Mercer Island High School and was stricken with an e-mail inviting him to camp in Carson, Calif., as the U-20 National Team prepares for this summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey.
“My heart stopped for a little bit. It was one of the coolest feelings I’ve had,” said Morris, who had never previously been called in to the US at any youth level. “I really couldn’t believe it.”
What came next was daunting for the 18-year-old Stanford commit.
He was notified of his invitation on Wednesday, April 17. On Monday, April 22, he was at The Home Depot Center in California training with the other 22 U-20 players, 14 of which were professional players. However, Morris blended in quickly.
“The common advice that I got across the board was to just play my game. I think that’s what I did and I guess it worked out,” he said, after picking up six assists in two scrimmages during the camp. “They were all so young, so it wasn’t hard to go in and fit in.”
A big part of that comfort comes from his time with the Sounders FC Academy, but also because Morris has played in MLS Reserve League action with the Sounders FC on several occasions, even scoring a goal against the Portland Timbers in a reserve match last season.
That was a big step for the admitted late-blooming Morris, who said he started getting much stronger and faster as he grew into his body over the last year and a half. Until that point, he wasn’t able to get playing time at the state ODP level, relying instead on his cunning soccer mind to get him places his physical tools couldn’t yet take him. Now that those tools have caught up to his soccer sense, he’s been a force to be reckoned with on the youth level.
“I think that’s something that I’ve been lucky to have my whole career. I think I have a good sense and vision on the field,” Morris said. “I’ve just never really had the speed and body strength and when those two aspects of my game combined with the vision I’ve had since I was younger it helped to improve my game.”
Now finishing his first full season with the Sounders FC U-18 team, Morris has 22 goals in 22 matches to help the Sounders FC Academy side reach the playoffs.
Now weeks away from when Tab Ramos announces his squad for the U-20 World Cup, Morris finds himself hopeful to make the team and head to Turkey after his performance in camp raised more than a few eyebrows.
“It went better than I ever expected it to,” he said. “If nothing else comes out of it, it was a great experience to help me better my game.”
The U-20 World Cup starts June 21 in Turkey, with the US drawing Group A with France, Spain and Ghana. They will need to finish in the top two of that group to be assured of a spot in the knockout round.