On February 22, 2018, Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during a CONCACAF Champions League against Santa Tecla FC in El Salvador. He was forced to miss the entire campaign as he recovered from the devastating injury.
On Tuesday, the Mercer Island native and Seattle Sounders Homegrown star was named the 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year, 20 months to the day after his career was put in jeopardy.
“It’s a big honor,” said Morris. “Just grateful really to be back out on the field this year after last year. Thankful for all the people that helped me get back out here – the training staff, teammates, family and everybody who supported me through a tough year last year. I’m just grateful for all their support.”
This season has been a storybook return for Morris. He even scored a brace in first MLS match back from recovering from his knee injury, a 4-1 win over FC Cincinnati on March 2.
Morris has emerged from his spell on the sidelines a more dominant player, putting in match-winning performances against the likes of the Portland Timbers, New York Red Bulls, LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.
“He works hard and has a different perspective on life,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. “Honestly, as tough as it was for Jordan, it was a blessing in disguise because he’s been tremendous and has a great mentality.”
Morris’ 2019 comeback is even more remarkable given he battled ankle and hamstring injuries in 2017, making it two years since he’d competed at full health.
After a solid run with the USMNT at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, he returned to the Sounders in prolific form, rattling off six goals and six assists from 12 starts down the stretch.
Now a true out-and-out winger, Morris has evolved into one of the most dangerous attacking players in MLS, blending his blistering pace with quality service and an ability to eliminate defenders on the dribble.
“When I was playing [on the wing] in the past, it was kind of an obligation, and I would rather be up front,” added Morris. “I see it as my position now and moving forward. It’s where I want to play.”
Sometimes in life, you don’t realize how special something is until it’s taken away from you. For Morris, who has faced high expectations ever since he burst onto the scene with Sounders Academy back in 2013, his time spent recovering from the ACL injury gave him a new outlook on soccer.
“I told myself that I was going to have a new attitude coming back this year and not take anything for granted,” he said. “I realize how lucky I am to be out here every day because it can get taken away for a year pretty quickly. Having that new attitude has helped a lot because I’ve been grateful to be a soccer player every day. Getting to do what we do is pretty special.”
On Saturday, Morris started his first Audi MLS Cup Playoffs match since the 2016 MLS Cup Final in Toronto. He marked his return with the club’s first-ever postseason hat trick as Seattle advanced past FC Dallas with a 4-3 win.
It was the perfect reward for a player who has worked so hard, and fought through so much adversity, just so he could come back and compete alongside his teammates.
“I was looking back and talking to my family and my girlfriend about where we were a year ago,” Morris reflected. “So, to be here now is super special. Again, I’m just grateful to be back out on the field.”
Morris is the 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year, but his comeback isn’t complete. He showed in the win over FC Dallas that he’s capable of elevating his game each time he takes the field.
His story continues on Wednesday, when the Sounders host Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals (7:00 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).
Expect the hometown kid to leave everything out on the pitch.