The ascension of Jordan Morris to date has been reactionary. After his performance in the Sounders FC win against Los Angeles FC on Sunday, coach Brian Schmetzer basically said, get used to it.
“These are the type of performances that are kind of routine for Jordan Morris,” said the Sounders coach after the club defeated LAFC 3-1 at CenturyLink Field. “He can do this every game, in my opinion.”
Well, the theory could be tested Wednesday with the Sounders’ road matchup against Real Salt Lake (2-1-4) at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The club will travel day-of to play the 6:30 p.m. PT match.
The match is also expected to be played before a sparse crowd of approximately 5,000 fans strategically distanced to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an experience the Sounders (4-1-2) haven’t had since a home game March 7 due to the pandemic. But Seattle has put on a good show in two closed-door matches, outscoring LAFC and the Portland Timbers 6-1.
“We’re clicking as a team,” Morris said. “Defensively we’re playing well and going forward, we’re creating a lot of chances. …Yeah, good results against teams like that gives you confidence moving forward. But every game is important. We have another tough one on Wednesday and these games are going to come fast. We need all of the guys to be ready to go.”
Morris scored back-to-back goals within 59 seconds of each other early in the second half Sunday. The speed of the goals topped teammate Cristian Roldan’s rapid brace for the franchise record.
In a 2017 home win against the San Jose Earthquakes, Roldan scored a header and close-range goal in the 54th and 56th minutes of an eventual 3-0 win.
Morris utilized his speed and footwork to score off a long-ball assist from Nico Lodeiro in the 48th minute, and in the 49th minute, Morris teamed with midfielder Joao Paulo to tap in a score from just outside the six-yard box.
The scores tie Morris for team-lead with striker Raul Ruidiaz with five goals this season. Morris, who was awarded the 2019 MLS Comeback Player of the Year after suffering a season-ending ACL tear in 2018, has 30 goals in 90 games since signing as a Homegrown player in 2016.
More scores will also likely be attributed to the addition of Joao Paulo, a Brazilian signed as a Designated Player in January. Joao Paulo missed the MLS is Back tournament in Florida due to injury, but his return as part of the spine of the Sounders’ lineup – including Lodeiro and Gustav Svensson – gives the club another player capable for pinpointing deep passes Morris can use his speed to collect for shot attempts.
“You (saw) a glimpse of what we can be,” Roldan said of Sunday’s win. “The deep, long pass is so important and so effective. To be able to play in behind and to also have the composure to play out of the back and maintain possession as well as being aggressive. …Joao Paulo and Nico are playmakers.”
In the clubs’ last meeting, the Sounders defeated RSL in the Western Conference semifinals en route to winning the 2019 MLS Cup.
RSL is also in the midst of an ownership change as former club owner Dell Loy Hansen announcing Sunday plans to sell the team, along with stakes in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Utah Royals FC and USL Championship’s Real Monarchs. The decision comes on the heels of multiple reports of Hansen making racist remarks and also criticizing his club for deciding not to play last week against LAFC in support of protests against racial injustice and the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wis.
“It’s a moment of sadness,” Hansen said Thursday morning, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, in an interview for a local radio show called “Radio From Hell.” “It’s like someone stabbed you and then you’re trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That’s what it feels like. The disrespect was profound to me personally.”
Hansen, who has allegedly made racists comments in the past, was recently heralded for financing and providing leadership in the NWSL’s return to play with a Challenge Cup played in June and July in Utah. Hansen provided housing, stadium access and testing.
MLS and NWSL released statements denouncing Hansen’s comments.
“I just want to get back to playing soccer and get our community feeling good,” RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman said via a media conference call Monday. “Whatever that was is in the past. Hopefully we can get a really strong ownership group in here and really get this club up to the elite part of this league.”