Jordan Morris is fast becoming a name to know for fans of Sounders FC.
For the last year, the Academy star has been a terror for the Rave Green, scoring 28 goals in 32 matches to help lead the Sounders FC U-18s to Finals Week. That reign earned him National Player of the Year honors, besting several players already signed to professional contracts with other Academy teams. He also earned a spot in U.S. U-20 National Team camp in preparation for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, though he didn’t make the final roster.
And while he has spent a lot of time playing with professionals at the U-18 and U-20 levels and in select appearances playing with Sounders FC in the MLS Reserve League, he knows they are all building blocks toward his eventual goal of playing professionally himself.
“It was a great year. I think the Academy has definitely helped me grow as a player. It’s a really professional environment and week-in and week-out you play against some of the best players in the country,” said the Stanford-bound forward. “When you play against that high of a level of a team, you’re going to get better as a player. Also each day at practice you play against good players as well, so it really helps you grow as a player.”
Morris has been a dream for the Academy coaching staff.
Already blessed with talent and the drive to succeed, Morris struggled to find his full potential until this year. Then, everything clicked as his abilities, intelligence on the field and determination all collided with an explosion of goals at the U-18 Academy level, going up against the best young players from the Academy systems of all of the west coast MLS teams, along with several other top flight programs in the USSDA.
To Sounders FC Director of Youth Development Darren Sawatzky, his showing in the 2012-13 season was only just the beginning.
“The number one thing that you say is that you’re lucky to have a chance to work with those types of players. He has a lot of pro qualities and I think Dick McCormick and the staff have done a good job with him this year, giving him the freedom to get there,” Sawatzky said. “The sky’s the limit for him.”
The 18-year-old Mercer Island High School alum has been growing around the Seattle professional soccer scene for years beyond his involvement in the Sounders FC Academy. His father, Dr. Michael Morris, is the Medical Director for Sounders FC and served as the team physician for the USL edition of the Seattle Sounders for three years.
Now bound for Stanford University, he will join with another Sounders FC Academy alum in midfielder Aaron Kovar, who was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2012. The same school that produced former Sounders FC players Roger Levesque and Taylor Graham will now serve as the next step in the development process for Kovar and Morris as they both vie for spots with the first team.
If there is one thing Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid and the Seattle technical staff has shown when signing players to Homegrown Player contracts, it is patience. Defender DeAndre Yedlin played two seasons at the University of Akron before signing his first professional contract. Now starting for Sounders FC, Yedlin is also the club’s only representative in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday in Kansas City.
That patience allows players to play in games at the college level and develop off the field as well, producing a more well-rounded and prepared player when the time comes to play at the next level.
“Sigi and the first team staff take their time to make sure the kids are ready. We want to make sure that the kids are ready and we’re hoping we’re giving them the best chance to make it at the highest level,” Sawatzky said. “You can’t underestimate the value of games. We’re excited to watch the Pac-12 this year.”
While he is excited to get on the end of crosses from Kovar, who mans the left wing for the Cardinal, Morris also dreams of a day when the duo will team up in Rave Green at CenturyLink Field.
“That’d be a dream come true,” he smiled. “You take it day-by-day. My dream would be to play for this team someday. It’s an amazing club. If the opportunity comes, it would be great.”