Morris and Nana-Sinkam were in the same class and won the NCAA College Cup in their junior seasons in 2015. Morris turned pro following that championship and signed a Homegrown contract with the Sounders, while Nana-Sinkam returned for his senior year and led Stanford to back-to-back titles. The Cardinal defeated Wake Forest in penalty kicks in the final last December, just one day after Morris and the Sounders won MLS Cup.
Now the two close friends and former teammates are reunited in Seattle and are looking to continue their winning ways.
“My last year we lived right next to each other in the dorms,” Morris said. “Our class would do everything together…We were very, very tight.”
After drafting Nana-Sinkam with the 22nd and final pick of the first round, Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey said of Nana-Sinkam, “Jordan Morris likes him, so that’s a good place to start.”
Morris had told head coach Brian Schmetzer to keep an eye on Nana-Sinkam at the MLS Combine in the days leading up to the draft, and Seattle’s technical staff liked what they saw. Head scout Kurt Schmid had been following Nana-Sinkam since his freshman year in Palo Alto, and when the intelligent center back was still available, the Sounders listened to Morris’ input.
“It’s cool that you can have that open communication with those guys,” Morris said of the technical staff. “They understood that I played with him for a long time and could really evaluate him as a player. I’m obviously very high on him…I’m glad they listened.”
Now it’s up to Nana-Sinkam to try and earn his spot on the team. He’s only 6-feet tall, which is on the shorter end for prototypical center backs, but he’s incredibly athletic. A former high school basketball player, he’s strong, fast and an excellent 1-v-1 defender, all characteristics that should translate well to the professional level.
“He’s tough to break down,” Morris said. “You don’t see him get beat very often on the dribble. He’s a smart kid so he’s very good positionally. You look at Stanford’s defensive record, it was very impressive, and he was a big contributor to that. From the first day I got there, I always thought he was a great defender.
“I’m excited to see him get rewarded for all his hard work.”