Call up to senior USMNT just the beginning for Sounders Academy grad Morris

On Saturday night at Stanford’s Cagan Stadium, Mercer Island native and Sounders FC Academy alum Jordan Morris finished with one goal and one assist in a 2-0 win for the Cardinal against San Jose State University.  While it was an outstanding way to make an impression in his second match of the 2014 collegiate season, it doesn’t come close in comparing to his experience on Wednesday, when he suited up with the U.S. National Team for the first time.

"It's been crazy.  It's been a whirlwind, but it’s a really exciting time,” Morris said after returning from his first full national team camp in the Czech Republic.  “When I first found out, it was emotional.  It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to play for the national team and get to represent my country.  It’s amazing at the youth level as well, but it’s a whole different step up when you get called into the first team.”

Morris, who is 19 years old and in his sophomore season at Stanford, didn’t play in the U.S. National Team’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague, but found time amidst that tornado of a first experience to gain as much as he could from the journey.

And what an adventure that first call to the U.S. National Team was.

Morris was the first collegiate player to get called to a U.S. camp since 1998. Before joining his U.S. teammates in Prague, he had his college opener against Creighton to contend with.  After playing 87 minutes in a 2-0 defeat, Morris boarded a plane from Omaha to Chicago and then continued to Germany.  He spent the entirety of those two flights alone, talking with his parents online and reminding himself intermittently that this was real – he was flying to Prague to join the U.S. National Team.

“It was crazy.  The whole flight over, I couldn’t believe I was doing it,” he said.

In Prague, Morris worked as a center forward for Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s second team, playing behind U.S. National Team veteran Jozy Altidore on the depth chart.  Morris was the only amateur player included in the camp, joining players from the Premier League and the Bundesliga, as well as players from other leagues around Europe. 

There were also three players from Liga MX in Mexico, as well as Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando from MLS.

That made for an atmosphere that was much different from the previous camps he’d been to with the U-20, U-21 and U-23 National Teams.

“It’s definitely a different vibe.  It’s more professional.  You’re expected to be ready to play,” Morris said.  “The level of play is higher and more intense.  Every player there, the speed of play is just a little bit quicker.  When you jump each level, that’s going to continue to be true.  Those trainings are always so fun and the level is so high.  It’s just a great opportunity to learn and get better as a player.  Even though I didn’t play, it was great to be in that environment and just continue to learn.”

Although he is still seeking his first cap with the U.S. National Team, Morris holds an extremely positive outlook after the camp and friendly in Prague. 

He knew going into the camp that there was a possibility that he wouldn’t play against the Czech Republic and was prepared to use the trip, whether he played or not, as a further step in his development.

“Going into it I told myself to be as positive as I can.  I knew I might not play, but I knew it would still be a stepping stone to lead to more things.  I wasn’t too disappointed because the overall experience was amazing,” he said.  “It would have been awesome to get in the game, but it didn’t work out.  The whole week was great – to see how things work and get to know the guys.  It was a really cool experience.”

Now back in Palo Alto, Calif., Morris is already picking up where he left off after a stellar freshman season.  Last year, he helped the Cardinal reach the NCAA Tournament with an All-Pac-12 First Team performance, scoring six goals to go with seven assists.

He has one goal and one assist now after playing two matches and will look to add to that total on Tuesday night when Stanford meets UC-Santa Barbara.

Now with one camp with the U.S. National Team on his resume, Morris is striving to earn another and knows that his play at every level can help him get back.

“The week leading up to it was exciting and then going there was a surreal experience … it felt like a dream.  It was a great experience and one that I’ll definitely learn from and it makes me hungry for more,” Morris said.  "My goals down the line are with the national team, so hopefully I can continue to build toward those.  If it doesn’t happen soon, I’ve just got to keep working hard and it will happen again in the future.”

Morris played the 2012-2013 season with the Sounders FC U-18 Academy team, scoring 28 goals in 32 matches.  He is the second player from the Sounders FC Academy to earn a U.S. National Team call-up after DeAndre Yedlin made his debut this year and earned a spot on the 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.

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