It’s been a big summer for Sounders FC Academy, with DeAndre Yedlin playing extensively for the U.S. National Team at the FIFA World Cup, Sean Okoli earning a spot in the Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game during All-Star Week in Portland and four players from the Sounders FC U-16 team receiving invites to play on the West squad in the Generation adidas ESP Showcase. However, the club’s developmental system got another feather in its cap this week when Jordan Morris was invited to the U.S. U-23 National Team camp this week in the Bahamas.
This marks the second international call-up for Morris after an April camp with the U.S. U-21 National Team as Youth National Team Technical Director Tab Ramos prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
“I was excited. It’s always an honor to get called into these. It’s a really cool experience and it’s a way to better yourself when you’re playing against some of the best young players in the country,” said Morris. “It doesn’t hurt that it’s in the Bahamas.”
Morris worked his way into the U.S. radar last year after being named the USSDA National Player of the Year with the Sounders FC U-18s. He was invited to play with the U.S. U-20s in the Toulon Tournament in France, where he played in all three matches for his first international appearances. After his showing at the U-21 camp, he was also invited to train with the U.S. National Team in Palo Alto, where he plays collegiately at Stanford University, as Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann prepared his team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
There, he wasn’t treated as an outsider, but a player who, in time, can make an impact for the Stars and Stripes. Klinsmann even spent time nurturing Morris and talking with him in-depth about his play during the scrimmages.
“I was a young guy they were bringing in and he didn’t ignore me. He was very into how I was doing,” recalled Morris, noting that he was extremely nervous in his first day with the World Cup team. “He wanted me to take people on and be confident and the fact that the coach of the national team was saying that kind of stuff really gave me confidence. He was really into helping my development. It was great to sit with him and getting to talk with him.”
Morris learned some important lessons in that camp from Klinsmann and the players that made up the World Cup team.
“It’s was an unbelievable experience. It was really cool and just to have the opportunity to go in there before the World Cup was so generous of the coaches. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. They are some amazing players,” Morris said. “It showed me what I need to continue to work on. It was a great experience and one that I’m really grateful for.”
Since that camp, Morris has played with the Sounders FC U-23s and trained with Sounders FC on a regular basis. That further experience with professionals will help ease him into the U-23 National Team camp, where he is one of just two collegiate players that will take part.
That is nothing new to Morris, who had similar experiences at the U-20 tournament and in the U-21 camp.
“I think the first time I was called in, it was a different feel. It was a little bit intimidating. But as I’ve gone back, it’s a different environment,” he said. “Being around the Sounders and the professional environment, you get to understand the player’s mentality a bit more. I’m definitely more comfortable now.”
Morris has lofty goals ahead in his career and they include his target of making the U.S. Olympic Team in 2016 qualifying. Camps like the one this week, which includes a match against the Bahamas Senior National Team on August 6, will help lead him toward that aspiration.
First, though, he looks forward to his sophomore season at Stanford, where he was an All Pac-12 selection as a freshman after netting six goals and seven assists in 21 matches, helping Stanford reach the NCAA Tournament.
“This is the starting for that Olympic group and that is a goal of mine. It would be a dream come true to represent your country there,” he said. “I’m excited for the camp and ready to get back to college and really excited for this season.”