The Toulon Tournament has a history. Sporting Director Chris Henderson played there in 1989 with current Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid as one of the assistants on that team. This year, Jordan Morris was called from the Seattle Sounders Academy and Mercer Island High School to represent the United States and maybe earn a call to the U-20 World Cup.
Morris would not be selected for that honor, starting first team right back DeAndre Yedlin was selected, but Morris showed some things to US Coach Tab Ramos that made the decision point a bit more difficult.
“Jordan’s a powerful player,” Ramos pointed out in a New York Times story on the U-20 squad. “He is comfortable with the ball, but I look for that in all of them. And he can connect with other players, with the knack of scoring goals.”
Going up against a French side of full professionals and a couple years older and South Americans that are also pros the Sounders Academy product was not overwhelmed, if imperfect.
“To see how he compares against European and South American professionals it is a great standard to measure himself against,” Henderson told SoundersFC.com after returning from a multi-day trip to the tournament. “He held his own. He had some moments where you could see the youth in him, but that’s expected. He’s going to take this experience and it’s only going to help him moving forward.”
Henderson was part of a crowd that he says was about 80-percent team officials, scouts, player agents and other talent evaluators. Those men represented some of the biggest clubs in the world as all looked to find the next great youth player.
With a Sounder on the field Henderson of course looked at Morris quite a bit. He liked what he saw.
“He was trying to get involved. He was playing wide on the right and he usually plays up top for Seattle. But there is a lot of competition at the forward spots with the MLS guys coming in so I think being able to be a versatile player is important for him. He’s good at chasing plays down. He’s good defensively and tracking the ball back. He’s physical. Being a younger player he didn’t really get out-muscled. I thought at moments he was willing to take players on.”
It is a step for Morris, but not the end. He can take lessons from his experiences going up against pros a year to three older with longer professional training environments. In just one camp and one tournament he made an impression on the national team and showed that he just might have a future there.
“We’re glad he’s coming from our club and we think that he’s got a good future with the National Team programs and maybe one day he’s wearing one of our jerseys,” Henderson said.
That future could come as early as the U-20 World Cup. Morris is on the provisional roster as a potential replacement if a player gets injured. Tab Ramos told players on that list that they need to maintain fitness and prepare for a call, because if one comes there will be no warning.
Now Morris comes back to the Academy and to that summer between high school and starting college.