Jordan Morris did not have the typical Spring Break of a college freshman. But then, there’s not much that is typical about Morris.
After a stellar first season at Stanford University, the Sounders FC Academy alum joined Sounders FC in training for a couple of days during his Spring Break before leaving for a training stint at Everton. This week, he is back in California and after playing on Saturday in a spring game with Stanford, he is in camp with the U.S. U-21 National Team on the first step toward the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
“It’s been a whirlwind in the last couple of years, but it’s been exciting,” said Morris, who went from a virtual unknown to one of the standouts of a U.S. U-20 camp last year and now looks to be a regular call-up for years to come. “I’m blessed and appreciative of the experience. These are some of the best young players in the country, so it’s really exciting to play against them and continue to work on my game and find things I need to work on to get to that level.”
After being named an NSCAA High School All-American, Gatorade ESPN Washington State Player of the Year and NSCAA Washington State Player of the Year in 2012, Morris exploded in 2013 with the Sounders FC U-18s, earning USSDA National Player of the Year honors.
That led to a call-in with the U.S. U-20 National Team for the prestigious Toulon Tournament in France, where he played three matches in his first experience on the international stage. Now, one year later, he has garnered even more attention after a standout freshman season at Stanford, where he helped the Cardinal reach the NCAA Tournament with six goals and seven assists, earning All-Pac-12 First Team honors.
In addition to training with Sounders FC, which he has done plenty since joining the Academy in 2012, it also led to a training stint with Everton. Though he had the chance to play in a Reserve League match for Seattle in Portland against the Timbers, scoring a goal for Sounders FC’s reserves at Providence Park, he got a different perspective on rivalries while training with Everton’s U-18s.
While he and his father rode in taxi cabs from the hotel to the training ground, he found himself often driven by Liverpool fans who would have preferred to drive him to the ground of the club just around the corner rather than their rivals. One driver, Morris recalled, said a prayer begging for forgiveness for the atrocity he was about to commit – entering the oppositions facility.
“It was cool to see the atmosphere of the fans there and you definitely experienced it through the cab drivers,” Morris laughed, noting that the training experience at Everton was a new and valuable one. “It was a cool experience. I got out of my comfort zone a little bit and I think that was a good situation to be in. The speed of play was very quick and it was interesting to see how I stacked up.”
Now Morris is still among some top talent with the U.S. U-21 National Team, who will face Club Tijuana in a friendly Wednesday night. If his time with Seattle and Stanford are any indication, he won’t look a bit out of place with a 19-man team made up of 17 professionals, with just Morris and Santa Clara goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh still among the college ranks.
“He’s definitely a player that we think has a very bright future,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s got good quality and he does well. His focus when he’s in the game is very good.”
This call-up is much different for Morris than his prior experience in the Toulon Tournament. Now with that international experience under his belt and the reinforcement of his play on the college level, he is more self-assured in his approach and is hopeful that this can lead to more great experiences in Brazil in 2016.
“I’m definitely more confident this time. I know the guys. I have a feel for the environment and the level of play. I know more what to expect and I’m very excited. It’s an honor to get the call,” he said. “It’s a long ways away and this is just the start of the journey. It’s a cool goal to have and definitely something that you look at – it’s a dream to play in an event like that. But you have to take it one step at a time and progress towards that.”
Morris is joined in camp by Sounders FC forward Sean Okoli. After the match on Wednesday night, Okoli will return to Seattle to prepare to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday and Morris will head back to Palo Alto, Calif., to finish out the final three matches of the spring camp for Stanford as he prepares for his sophomore season.