Prior to Saturday’s thrilling 4-3 win in extra time over FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field, it had been three years since Jordan Morris started a match in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
Seattle’s Homegrown winger announced his return to the postseason in dramatic fashion, bagging his first-ever professional hat trick – and the club’s first in the playoffs – as Seattle secured passage to the Western Conference Semifinals.
“It’s just good to be back playing in playoff games,” said Morris. “This last couple of years I’ve been hurt – in 2017 for the majority of the playoffs and 2018 for the whole playoffs. So, to be back in these games is special.”
As Morris has demonstrated all season, he’s matured into a match-winning player out on the wing. After he returned from the CONCACAF Gold Cup with the United States Men’s National Team, Morris tallied six goals and six assists as Seattle finished second in the West.
“He’s grown,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Jordan is such a nice kid and has so much talent. It just shows his growth, his maturity, in these big contests and these big games.”
The diversity of Morris’ three goals illustrates just how much he’s developed this season.
The first, a left-footed finish underneath FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez in the 22nd minute, came courtesy of a well-timed run in transition. Morris second goal was a poacher’s finish, fending off a defender to redirect Gustav Svensson’s flicked header into the bottom corner.
Morris’ third goal, which stood as the game-winner, was a feat of anticipation and technique, as he rose above his to defender to head the ball in at the far post in the 113th minute.
Schmetzer cites Morris’ work with assistant coach Preki as a key factor in his progression in 2019.
“He’s been a good student [of the game],” Schmetzer said of Morris. “Preki’s been working with him. They watch film. Preki actually makes Jordan find the clips that he wants to talk about, and then they discuss it.
“We’re making Jordan think about the game, and think about how he can be better, instead of just feeding him ‘you should do this’ and ‘you should do that’. I think some of those things are working.”
The 2019 campaign has been trying at times for the Sounders, as a blistering start made way for a frustrating Summer. But those trials and tribulations have molded the Sounders into a team capable of overcoming any adversity.
With a berth in the Western Conference Semifinals secured, and Morris maintaining the best form of his career, the Rave Green are built for a run in the postseason.
“We’ve got to keep pushing,” said Morris. “We know it’s been a long season, a tough season, but there’s only three games left to accomplish what we want to accomplish.”
The journey continues on Wednesday, with the Sounders hosting the winner of the Real Salt Lake – Portland Timbers match. Tickets will go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. PT.