It’s no coincidence that the two best goalscoring years of Jordan Morris’ professional career have come when playing as a true forward. The eighth-year Seattle Sounders Homegrown finished the season with 11 goals, one off his career high he set in his rookie campaign in 2016 when playing as an out-and-out striker.
While Morris has found an abundance of success as a transitioned left winger — he was MLS Best XI in 2020 on the wing and his play there earned a United States roster spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup — his best tangible contributions have come from leading the line. Earlier this season, Morris set a club record with a four-goal performance against Sporting Kansas City, a match in which he lined up as a No. 9. And now Morris finds himself as the focal point in attack yet again with goals in each of the Sounders’ first two 2023 playoff matches and three in his last five games in all competitions.
“I really enjoy it. I think that’s my best position,” said Morris. “I started my career as a No. 9. I feel like I can provide a lot for the team up there in terms of stretching teams and getting in behind.”
The Sounders will be looking to Morris to provide some more attacking spark on Friday when they welcome FC Dallas to Lumen Field (7:00 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM, Sirius XM FC 157) for a decisive match in a best-of-three opening round series. He has eight career postseason goals, five of which have come against Dallas including a 2019 hat trick.
But for as much as he does offensively, it’s his work rate in off-the-ball defending that Head Coach Brian Schmetzer really admires, something that is often a catalyst for counterattacking opportunities.
"He’s got two goals already, he’ll look to add to that total,” said Schmetzer. “He does a lot of defending, his pressing is very good. He’s a big, strong kid. You saw that on a couple of plays down there in Dallas. He’s a willing worker, he’s a willing runner."
Added Morris: “I do like to press with other guys on the team, which is great from that No. 9 position.”
So often in the playoffs, matches are determined by the finest of margins and which team and group of players is the most up for the moment. The Sounders are as experienced and unfazed by the spotlight as any team in MLS and feature a slew of crafty veterans like Morris, Cristian Roldan, Stefan Frei, Nicolás Lodeiro, Raúl Ruidíaz and João Paulo.
“It’s a big game, but that’s what this team is built for,” said Morris. “In tights games like this, you might only get one opportunity, you just have to be really prepared and really switched on and when the opportunity comes, hopefully put it in the back of the net.”
Seattle also finds itself in an enticing situation. Sporting Kansas City knocked off the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed in St. Louis CITY, which means the Sounders as the No. 2 seed would have home-field advantage up to MLS Cup. A win on Friday would set up a date with LAFC in the Western Conference Semifinals then a match with either SKC, Real Salt Lake or the Houston Dynamo for a trip to their fifth MLS Cup appearance in eight years.
“For us, being at home, we have to impose our will on the game in the first 10 to 15 minutes and come out flying,” said Morris. “We have three home games to make it to MLS Cup. That’s an incredible opportunity for us. We’ve got take it one game at a time and it all starts with Dallas.”