Sounders FC Academy product Jordan Morris is back with the U.S. National Team this week ahead of the first two World Cup Qualifiers on the road to Russia 2018, and he could be in line for major minutes for the Americans.
USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann praised Morris during the team’s training sessions in Miami, as all eyes remain on which young US players will see time when the Americans host tiny St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis on Friday (4 p.m. PT; ESPN2).
Morris, 21, is one of a slew of young faces on Klinsmann’s roster ahead of the first two qualifiers, especially in the group’s ever-changing group of forwards. Citing a need to bleed new players into the system during what should be a favorable first pair of games for the USMNT, Klinsmann opted to pass on proven starter and Sounders star Clint Dempsey and instead take Morris, Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes, none of whom are older than 24.
Morris – who is currently a junior at Stanford – has appeared in five games for the USMNT this year (one start), notching a goal and an assist. He also featured for the US Under-23 team during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying earlier this year.
“I think Jordan Morris is one of our most promising talents that we have in the United States,” Klinsmann said. “His decision to stay with Stanford for the time right now is totally supported by us. We try to give him kind of as many high-quality games as we can. With the (U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team), he went through the qualifying process there and he did well. I brought him in whenever I could to give him minutes there.”
The Sounders offered Morris a written contract in April, but Morris elected to return to Stanford for another year on campus.
“Now, obviously, it comes closer to a decision for him if he goes pro at the end of the college season now. Where does he go? What does he want to do?” Klinsmann said this week. “I think, so far, it went okay. It went the right direction for him. He knows the tempo, the speed. Everything within the pro game, especially the different levels of the pro game, is another kind of dimension. He got that feel over the last one-and-a-half-years with us.
“Again, he’s a player that can make a difference,” Klinsmann said. “He’s a player that has some tools in his portfolio, like speed, like taking people on 1-against-1, like having a nose for the goal, finishing things off or being the one that gives the final assist, things that we’re looking for in young players, especially young strikers. He’s well equipped for the pro game and sooner or later he has to step it up and do it.”
The US will play their second qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain on Nov. 17.