When Landon Donovan retired at the end of the 2014 season, Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris was just a sophomore at Stanford University. Morris never thought he’d get a chance to play against the United States national team and MLS icon.
But after Donovan decided to rejoin the Galaxy a few weeks ago, Morris finally had that chance in Seattle’s 4-2 win over LA on Sunday. He wanted a souvenir to remember the occassion, but Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro beat him to it.
“It was really cool, I never thought that would happen,” Morris said of playing against Donovan. “I was going to try and trade jerseys with him, but Nico snuck in there and took it. It was great, [Donovan] did really well when he came on.”
There was a moment in the match where Morris was stuck between Donovan and English legend Steven Gerrard, two of the generation’s best players. Morris wasn’t thinking about it at the moment, but the 21-year-old rookie understood the company surrounding him.
“I had played against Gerrard earlier in the season,” Morris said, “but to play against such legends of the game was pretty exciting.”
Donovan was quick to heap praise on Morris afterward as well. Morris recorded his 11th and 12th goals of the season and set a record for United States-born rookies in the process, and he now leads all U.S.-born players in MLS in goals this year.
Donovan and Morris played against each other at the 2014 World Cup camp in Stanford - Donovan with the USMNT and Morris with the Stanford team that scrimmaged Jurgen Klinsmann's squad - but they had never played against one another in a competitive match. The Galaxy midfielder was impressed with what he saw.
Donovan said Morris is “not potentially [special], he is special. First of all, his work rate is really good, so teammates love playing with him."
Added Donovan: “He’s relentless in the way he attacks, and he’s good in front of goal. The first goal was terrific the way he finished it. The second goal was really calm. Most players at that age shoot it immediately…He’s got all the makings to be very good and I thought I he was excellent today.”