The Mercer Island native tallied 12 goals this season, most ever by an American rookie in MLS.
Sounders forward Jordan Morris has been named Major League Soccer’s Rookie of the Year, the league announced Thursday morning.
The Mercer Island native, who this time last year was leading Stanford to its first men’s soccer national championship, tallied 12 goals this season, most ever by an American rookie in MLS. Morris’ six game-winners were second only to Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls, the league’s Golden Boot winner.
Morris is the first Sounder to win this award and the first Sounder since DeAndre Yedlin in 2013 to so much as finish in the top three. Fellow Seattle forward Clint Dempsey was also named Rookie of Year while with New England in 2004. Morris took the honor with 45 percent of the weighted vote — nearly 15 percent higher than second-place finisher Keegan Rosenberry of the Philadelphia Union — and garnered almost 50 percent of the player vote.
“Just to be in the company of two other great players was awesome,” Morris said. “It’s a huge honor. … Growing up watching this league, it’s always been a goal of mine to win this award.”
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Morris has been one of the few constants in a Sounders season of extreme highs and lows. He was second only to goalkeeper Stefan Frei in minutes played during the regular season, appearing in all 34 of Seattle’s regular-season matches as well as all three of its postseason games. Morris’ 12 goals were most on the team, and he also dished out four assists.
The raw numbers, though, gloss over some early struggles as Morris shouldered the burden of being the next big thing, both in Seattle and nationwide. With Obafemi Martins having departed for China just weeks before the new season and Clint Dempsey playing in just half of the team’s league matches, Morris was forced to adapt to MLS quickly as the lone focal point of the Sounders attack.
“I said 15 games into the season that I thought he should have had 15 goals,” Seattle defender Brad Evans said. “If he’s in the form he is now in the first 12, 15 games, he probably bangs 25 goals. In saying that, it’s well deserved. Without him, we’re not in the position that we are now.”
Both Evans and Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer recalled Morris’ rampant, two-assist performance in the win at Orlando in early August as something of a breakthrough.
“What people ask me, that’s the game I say, too,” Morris said. “Just because I feel like things came together and the team was clicking. I felt more comfortable. That was one of the first times I came off the field and thought, ‘that was one of my more complete performances.’ It was a good kind of turning point.”
The ROY’s status is “day-to-day” for the first leg of the Western Conference finals series against Colorado on Nov. 22 with a hamstring strain. Morris discussed both the award and his injury at length on Thursday afternoon, saying that MRI results had been encouraging and that he was optimistic he could return in time for the Rapids game.