The Seattle Sounders will host a “special presentation” on Thursday morning at the team's clubhouse in Pioneer Square, and all indications are that the club will unveil Mercer Island native Jordan Morris as its newest signing.
The Seattle Sounders will hold a “special presentation” Thursday morning at their clubhouse in Pioneer Square, and all indications are that the club will unveil Mercer Island native Jordan Morris as its newest Homegrown Player signing.
Morris turned down a contract offer in Germany this week.
Though the Sounders declined to elaborate on the nature of the presentation, the 11 a.m. news conference at the Ninety will be attended by owner Adrian Hanauer, general manager Garth Lagerwey, coach Sigi Schmid and sporting director Chris Henderson.
The expected signing would bring an end to a multiyear pursuit during which Morris’ public profile has significantly grown.
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When the Sounders first approached him with a contract following his freshman season at Stanford, Morris was a precocious but raw forward most known on the outside as the son of the Sounders’ team physician. He’ll be announced to much fanfare Thursday as an up-and-coming U.S. national-team star expected to rejuvenate a proven but aging Sounders attack.
The 21-year-old has stepped up to every challenge in his young career. As the first college player to earn a U.S. national-team appearance since the 1990s, Morris christened his first start with a go-ahead goal against rival Mexico. Despite that bullseye of national-team interest, Morris won the Hermann Trophy as the best player in Division I soccer this past season. He led Stanford to its inaugural national title with two goals in the championship game against Clemson.
Morris finished his Cardinal career with 23 goals and 16 assists in 54 appearances, earning Pac-12 Player of the Year and first-team All-American honors to go with the Hermann. He already has earned seven national-team caps and established himself as a U-23 regular on a team that has an outside chance to qualify for this summer’s Olympics.
Where Morris fits in the Sounders depth chart remains to be seen.
Their three highest-paid players — Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Nelson Valdez — are forwards, a roster that is attack-heavy even by MLS standards. Coach Sigi Schmid hinted this offseason that the team was open to experimenting with formations other than its standard 4-4-2. But even in a three-forward look, fitting all those pieces plus winger Andreas Ivanschitz onto the field is going to be a challenge. If nothing else, Morris’ addition would allow the Sounders to rotate bodies and keep legs fresh in a manner impossible in recent seasons.
Even as recently as Tuesday morning, it looked as though the Sounders would miss out on their highest-profile offseason target. With a league-record Homegrown Player contact from the Sounders gathering dust, Morris opted to join Werder Bremen of the German Bundesliga during its winter training camp. Trepidation increased with each glowing review — he notched an assist during his first live action with the club — and there were hints that Morris was under pressure from national-team leadership to embrace the opportunity abroad.
Yet on Tuesday, news broke out of Germany that Morris had turned down Bremen’s contract offer.
“Following intense talks, the player made it clear that he currently sees his future in America,” Bremen chief executive Thomas Eichen said in a team statement, and considering that Morris’ MLS rights are owned by the Sounders, all signs have since pointed Northwest.
On Wednesday, U.S. national-team coach Jurgen Klinsmann supported Morris’ decision in an interview with ESPN FC. The Sounders posted part of that story on their website.
“I’m thrilled that Jordan decided to go pro,” Klinsmann told ESPN FC. “This is the really important decision. And I’m thrilled with the Sounders, that he goes into an environment that he knows, that he feels comfortable with, and that he feels now that, ‘At this specific point in time, this is the best move for me.’ “