TUKWILA, Wash. — If you want to know when things clicked for Jordan Morris this season, look no further than the Seattle Sounders’ match against Orlando City on Aug. 7.
Morris assisted Clint Dempsey twice and led the Sounders to a 3-1 road win in then-interim head coach Brian Schmetzer’s second game in charge. Brimming with confidence, Morris finished the final 13 matches of the season with five goals and three assists.
“Things kind of came together [in Orlando],” Morris said. “I just felt more comfortable. It was one of the first times where I came off the field and thought it was one of my more complete performances.”
Morris ended the regular season with 12 goals and four assists en route to being named the 2016 AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year on Thursday. He edged Philadelphia Union defender Keegan Rosenberry and New York City FC winger Jack Harrison.
“It was one of my goals coming into the year, and just to be in the company of two other great players was awesome,” said Morris. “It’s a huge honor.”
Morris is the first Sounder to be named MLS’ top rookie. He received 47 percent of the player votes as well as 45 percent total, which also included clubs and the media.
“It’s awesome that your fellow peers think you had a good season, that actually means a lot to me and I’m thankful to all those guys,” said Morris.
His performance this year hasn’t been lost on his teammates either. Some even expressedtheircongratulations to him publicly on Twitter and acknowledged that the team would not be in the position its currently in without him.
“Maybe it was not getting into the [United States national team] for [Copa America Centenario that helped Morris break out this year],” said Sounders captain Brad Evans. “I said 15 games into the season I thought he should have had 15 goals. If he’s in the form that he is now for the first 10, 12, 15 games, he probably bangs 25 goals.”
Morris has yet to score in the MLS Cup Playoffs, but he has two assists in his last four matches dating back to Decision Day. He has adapted admirably to his temporary winger position in Schmetzer’s 4-2-3-1 while Andreas Ivanschitz and Alvaro Fernandez recover from injuries and Nelson Valdez continues his good form as the lone striker.
While currently nursing a strained hamstring he suffered in the second leg of the Sounders’ Western Conference Semifinals match against FC Dallas last Sunday, Morris is remaining positive and is eager to get back on the pitch. The United States called him into camp ahead of their first two Hexagonal matches for CONCACAF 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying, but sent him home on Tuesday after evaluating his hamstring.
Morris is doing everything he can to make sure he can play in the first leg of the Sounders’ Western Conference Championship series against the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday, Nov. 22 (7 p.m. PT; FS1, KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, El Rey 1360AM) and is ensuring he soaks up every last bit of his rookie campaign.
“The college season goes by too fast,” Morris said, “so it’s nice to be constantly playing games and doing what I love.”