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Jordan Morris makes USMNT statement on CONCACAF's biggest stage

Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Just hours after Landon Donovan’s criticism on the future of the USMNT’s individual talent surfaced the web, Jordan Morris delivered a heroic goal against Jamaica in this year’s edition of the Gold Cup final, which should have many thinking twice about his present and future role up top.

The Stanford alumnus returned to the Bay Area with a bang in what easily could be the most significant game of his young, developing career. Yes, he has quite the optimal silverware collection for a 22-year-old: NCAA Championship in 2015, MLS Cup in 2016 with the Seattle Sounders, and now in 2017, a Gold Cup with his country.

But things haven’t always been dandy for Morris, especially not when the big screens at Levi’s Stadium read: 49:20 on Wednesday night. Jamaica’s leveling goal then could have easily been a haunting moment for the Seattle Sounders’ forward, costing him his focus for the remainder of the match. But instead, Morris left his poor marking skills on Je-Vaughn Watson behind and bounced back. In return, he gifted his team and coach Bruce Arena a cup-winning goal in the 88th minute.

“I didn’t like the mistake on the corner kick, but to hang in there and play well and make the difference in the game is encouraging,” Arena said in the press conference after claiming the Gold Cup. “He’s a young player with a lot of talent, a lot of physical qualities.

“I think he’s going to continue to grow,” Arena added. “My predecessor did an outstanding job for getting him involved in the program. He’s a player we certainly think has a future.”

For Arena, Morris seems to be the real deal and he sees Wednesday’s goal as a “big step” in his career. He was so convinced in the forward’s abilities, he opted to go with Morris over Clint Dempsey in Wednesday’s starting XI. Morris faces his challenges, mainly on that corner kick, but he battled through all 90 minutes.

“For me especially after that mistake, it’s tough sometimes,” Morris said. “But you just have to try and stay positive.

“And like I said, my teammates picked me right back up after the mistake,” Morris added. “Next play, keep moving on and try to make a difference and that’s what I tried to do.”

Altidore has played side by side with Morris and it’s not everyday someone praises a potential replacement, less when you are the veteran and there is plenty left in the tank.

“I’m happy for Jordan because that was a a tough moment for him [conceding the leveling goal],” Altidore said. “He lost his mark for a second and at this level you lose your mark for a second, it can be a goal and that’s what happens.

“I was telling them, ‘Make fun of him’ because (of) his look on his face, he was so sad,” Toronto FC’s forward added. “For him to get that chance and bury it. everybody was so thrilled for him. He works so hard. He’s a kid with a lot of potential, a lot of talent and he’s come a long way.”

Morris might not have had a picture perfect night, but he did everything to lift the USMNT to a memorable title on Wednesday.

4 comments
  • Benjamin C.

    At the moment, I like Morris as a late sub against a tired team. He never stops running and that right foot is dynamite. Just like last night, he has that ‘where did that come from?’ ability to score a goal when one is needed (also when he hit the post at the very beginning of the Costa Rica match). He of course has his deficiencies, as every player on the squad has, but he produced late magic twice in this tourney, which is something that can’t be undervalued.

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  • Twomilerule

    Two bright spots for me with Morris was the obvious being quick to the ball in the box and delivering a well taken shot into the back of the net. The other was quickly driving the ball past a defender in the box and delivering a left footed cross into a dangerous area.

    The low light was losing his mark on the corner but what puzzles me is on the next corner he loses his mark again? If the corner ball is delivered accurately the Jamaican could have scored again with!

    The other run of play mistakes were in the first half when three or four times Morris does a great job of popping into space to receive the ball. However, his first touch takes him out of that space by five to ten yards away from the objective receiving the ball in that space. With a box packed with bodies he needs to receive and keep the ball at his feet. Later in the game Altidore started to fill those spaces and also move further away from the 18yard box for touches.

    I can see why Arena likes Morris. He is a fighter, accountable, team player, and most of all coachable. Evidence throughout the tournament was Morris using his left for shots and crosses. I wonder if Arena told Morris and Nagbe as well if you want to play you need to use your left foot for passing and shooting.

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  • Bryan

    To me he was mostly missing. ITs nice that he popped up to score a few goals but the tournament was a failure because at the end of the day none of the fringe players truly stepped up. In fact some of them (Acosta comes to mind) now leave me with less confidence in them going forward.

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