Jordan Morris set for debut in Seattle Sounders-Portland Timbers clash

TUKWILA, Wash.—Jordan Morris was a teenager the last time he suited up for a game in Portland, scoring a goal as a member of the Seattle Sounders reserve team.

Now in the midst of his first season as a professional with the first-team Sounders, the stakes are markedly higher for the 21-year-old forward as Seattle heads to Portland for a massive Sunday afternoon Cascadia Cup derby matchup with the Timbers at Providence Park (12 p.m. PT, FOX/KIRO 97.3 FM/El Rey 1360AM).

“When I was younger and playing for the academy, we went down and played a reserve game down there and we got to watch the first team play in Portland,” Morris said after Seattle’s practice on Tuesday. “It’s an awesome atmosphere, and obviously they have some crazy fans. It’s a big rivalry game, so I’m excited to play in that for the first time.”

Seattle figure to lean on their Homegrown rookie even more than they normally would to help spark their attack on Sunday.

The Sounders will be without their other star forward, Clint Dempsey, who will be suspended for the contest after picking up a red card in Seattle’s 5-0 blowout victory over FC Dallas on Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters on Friday, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said that he thinks Morris’s experience with the reserve team – and his longtime affiliation with the club in general – could put him ahead of the curve as far as handling what will assuredly be a raucous and unforgiving environment at Providence Sunday.

“Jordan, it’s his first time on the field [for the first-team] in the rivalry,” Schmid said. “But he’s certainly experienced it and been around and seen it. He’s played with the reserve team in Portland, so he’s been there.

“I think the players know what it’s all about. You feel the atmosphere right away when you step into the stadium. You’ve got to just step up and deliver.”

Morris’s even-keeled nature has proven to be one of his strongest attributes as he’s navigated his way through a rookie season that has already seen him score seven goals. Even with the increased fanfare and hype that comes with the rivalry matchup, Morris says he’s trying to approach game the same way he does any other.

“I’ve watched a lot of the games and I obviously know the rivalry and know how important it is to the fans and the team,” he said. “At the end of the day, though, we just think of it as another three points on the table for us. We don’t think of it any differently. We just have to go out and get the win.”