When US Coach Tab Ramos selected Jordan Morris to represent the USA at the U-20 level it was just another feather in a cap that started filling just one year ago. A club standout that just joined the Sounders Academy this year Morris is showing things in USSDA, MLS Reserve League and now U-20 play that indicate his quality and potential future with the United States.
“Throughout the tournament we’ll be rotating the team and giving everybody an opportunity to play,” Ramos said about the selectees going to France. His selection process for the U-20 World Cup in Turkey would include a top 13-14 players while the rest of that 21 man roster would be built on versatility.
Jordan Morris came off the bench in the first match. He played on the right wing of the 4-2-3-1 that the US uses at that level. He did not earn an assist. He did not score. But that isn’t the point of this 40 year old non-FIFA sanctioned tournament. Instead he showed what he could do. Using speed down the touchline he opened up space for his teammates. Once when driving into the box after nutmegging an older French defender (they entered a U-21 side) his cross was blocked by the arm of a different Frenchmen. It was judged as incidental, but still showed the skill and awareness that earned Morris a start in the second match of the tournament.
Already with one loss Ramos switched in five other young men to starting roles. Morris would start on the right, but occasionally interchange to the left. He tracked back regularly. It was his burst of speed and attempted cross that earned the United States the corner from which they would score in the 7th minute. While Colombia scored two unanswered goals to win 2-1 it was not due to lack of chances, most involving Morris.
Several times the Sounders Academy product would be in on goal, forcing the Colombian keeper to make saves that would be impressive at any level. Then there was his attempted chip. Breaking free from center to right on a long pass from Acosta, Morris used a touch with his right foot to create space to the middle. His next touch created a ball that looked to sail over, but dipped to just touch the bar. It was the kind of creative idea to score that the USA needed in a match where most opportunities came from dead balls.
Morris is still not a lock for the U-20 World Cup. He probably needs a goal or two in the remaining matches in Toulon (next is Saturday vs. D.R. of Congo at 6:30 AM on BeIN Sports). Entering the tournament his chance was low, but experts in the youth game see his rapid rise as paying off, maybe rising to the top of the selection bubble.
Ninety-Nine minutes into his US career the Mercer Island High School senior is holding his own against professional players a couple years older than he is. Morris is in his first year with the Sounders Academy and is a Stanford University commit for the 2014/15 college soccer season.