Despite two of the most significant disappointments of his youth career coming in quick succession, Sounders forward Jordan Morris maintained his characteristic cool on Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex.
Jordan Morris didn’t question the soccer gods when he was given the rare opportunity to play for the U.S. national team while still in college.
His charmed career path has charted a steady, upward trajectory — from Mercer Island to Stanford, his dream school, to a record Homegrown Player contract with the Sounders — and he has mostly handled the increased attention and stakes with the humility of a bemused shrug.
So despite two of the most significant disappointments of his youth professional life coming in quick succession, Morris maintained his characteristic composure on Tuesday at Starfire Sports Complex.
Morris was omitted from the USMNT’s final roster for the upcoming Copa America Centenario, just a few months removed from falling one game shy of this summer’s Olympic Games with the U.S. U-23 team.
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“Of course it’s disappointing,” Morris said. “We wanted to qualify for the Olympics and that didn’t happen. Personally, I wanted to make the (Copa America) team and it didn’t happen. I don’t view it as a setback. There are a lot of great players and Colombia was a great team. It’s tough. It’s tough to make these teams and to qualify for big tournaments. If you look at it as a setback, it’s only going to bring your game down here. I’m happy with how things have gone with the Sounders.”
Morris, 21, has scored four goals in 11 MLS games with Seattle, all of which came during a four-match span. He batted aside suggestions that he’ll shoulder an increased burden without fellow forwards Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez, both of whom were called up by their respective national teams for the Copa — though Morris did admit that the roster announcement could serve as motivation in the coming weeks.
“Every time you’re left off like that, it adds fuel to your fire to try to get back in the mix,” Morris said. “It’s obviously a little disappointing. I would have loved to have been on the team, but again, I completely respect the decision and I’m going to keep working on the things I can control to get to that next level.”
USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann called him last Friday to personally break the news and to tell him not to take the decision too hard, Morris relayed.
More publicly, Klinsmann told a FOX national broadcast that the decision had come down to Morris versus Chris Wondolowski, and that he’d gone with the San Jose Earthquakes forward because of his recent goal-scoring prowess. Some, including Sounders forward Herculez Gomez, have questioned the framing, given that Morris and Wondolowski play with very different styles.
Unwilling to bite the hand that plucked him from relative collegiate obscurity — or, more likely, because the rookie seems like just about the last player to openly question a coach’s wisdom — Morris was more diplomatic.
“(Wondolowski) just knows how to score goals and his way in and out of the box,” Morris said. “He’s better than me at that, for sure. That’s important as a striker. I think we have different skill sets, and Jurgen went with his, which is totally understandable. He’s a great player and someone I’ve looked up to. … I’m excited for him and excited to watch him.”