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Morris earns praise of Donovan following yet another standout performance

Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Jennifer Buchanan/USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Morris had crossed paths with Landon Donovan before. As a member of MLS Homegrown roster this summer, Morris played under a man he idolized growing up, and a man that, fairly or unfairly, he’s been compared to since breaking onto the scene as a Stanford student.

After Sunday’s match against the former U.S. Men’s National Team star, Morris hopefully darted towards Donovan in pursuit of a jersey swap. Nicolas Lodeiro beat him to the punch, claiming the shirt off Donovan’s back before Morris could get the chance. However, while he may not have gotten a valuable piece of Donovan memorabilia, Morris did get something much more impressive after Sunday’s win: his praise.

Morris shined in Sunday’s match, a 4-2 Seattle Sounders victory over a fellow playoff contender in the LA Galaxy. In what was a momentous win for the Sounders’ playoff hopes, it was Morris that led the way, scoring a pair of second half goals to decide the game and earn his side a vital three points.

The brace saw Morris score his 11th and 12th goal of the season, making him the most prolific American rookie in MLS history while also catching the eye of a certain star on the other side of the field.

“He’s relentless in the way he attacks, and he’s good in front of goal,” Donovan said of Morris. “The first goal was terrific the way he finished it. The second goal was really calm. Most players at that age shoot it immediately…He’s got all the makings to be very good and I thought I he was excellent today.”

“It was really cool. I never thought that would happen,” Morris added of playing against Donovan. “I tried to trade jerseys with him, but Nico (Lodeiro) snuck in there and took it. It was great and I thought he did really well when he came on.”

Donovan went on to say that he sees Morris is “not potentially [special], he is special”. The LA Galaxy star cited Morris’ relentless work rate as vital in Sunday’s win, while adding that he’s a forward any player would like to play alongside.

That work rate was on full display on Sunday. On his first finish, Morris darted past defender Daniel Steres, battling his way through a hard challenge. Using his pace, Morris got just ahead of the defender before finishing with the outside of his right foot. Following the game, Morris joked about his oft-criticized one-footedness, but added that it felt a bit more natural in the situation at hand.

His second goal, coincidentally, did come off his weaker left foot. Just 10 minutes after scoring his first, Morris pounced on a rebound in the box, weaving past veteran defender Robbie Rogers before slotting a shot into the near post.

“As the season has gone on, the game has slowed down for me a little bit and in certain moments I don’t panic as much,” Morris said. “It was a little bit slower. I took the touch, where maybe earlier in the season I would have taken it first time.

“After the first five or so games, after I got my first goal, the monkey off my back, I think there were still a lot of chances I didn’t put away. From there, I think things have just slowed down a little bit more.”

Morris’ newfound patience is an asset for the Sounders, who still remain very much alive in the Western Conference race. With Sunday’s win, Morris and co. sit just three points behind the rival Portland Timbers, despite having two games in hand.

“You have to keep in mind, this is a rookie,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said of Morris. “We’re talking about a rookie that has a lot of expectations for himself, but a lot of people putting high expectations on him. It comes with a lot of pressure and, for a young guy, it can be difficult to deal with that. You have Oba (Martins) leave and you got tossed right in and that’s very, very difficult. For him to stay calm, believe in himself and his ability and his teammates, his teammates also reassure him that we believe in him. It allows him to grow and just play his game. He’s an exceptional player… I’m excited he’s part of my team.”

“It’s part of his growth as a player, for sure,” added Sounders interim head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Very proud of him again. The game could have changed on either moment, and big-time players come up in those moments and make a difference in games. Jordan’s performance was a big-time performance tonight.”


    • Rrriiiggghhhtttt. Because becoming the league’s all time leading goal scorer and assist leader probably wouldn’t be a very good goal for Morris.

      • Hopefully he’ll set his bar higher than being a Big Fish in a little pond. I don’t have a problem with his decision to start his professional career in MLS, but hopefully after the 2018 WC he looks & goes abroad to a good team in England or Germany. I think by then he’ll be at a point where he can start for a mid-table team or better.
        As the current generation of young players progress our team should be fun to watch. We look to have the makings of a good spine, my only concern are our outside backs.

      • I think he meant staying in MLS for almost your entire career, but you’re right to completely discredit his ability to “advise” is pretty silly. Any young American potential star could learn from LD’s successes as well as failures.

      • Lost: Starting for a mid table team in the EPL is going to take some big strides in two years. Bundesliga I think would be a definite possibility, might even be able to play for a few lower Bundesliga teams now.

  1. That’s an awful lot of ink to devote to a guy whose 1st goal yesterday was generated by a blatant foul and blown call by the referee.

    And the second goal? I don’t know about Morris showing all that much patience. He just happened to be in the right spot at the right time when a ball deflected to his foot. But was certain was that Landon the Legend was 10 yards away, watching the whole thing on flat feet, when he could have been marking said goalscorer.

    Yes, bitter, party of one.

    • Was the foul before the breakaway, looked like pretty poor defending from Steres (I’m just watching on my tiny laptap, might have looked worse on a fullsize screen).

      The second one a lot of guys would have just hacked at it first time with their strong foot, but he brought it back to his left (which he almost never uses, painfully so most of the time) and finished it.

      • i gotta interject here by saying that second goal was straight up hustle and want to by a young player that you rarely see. He out paced the defender for the ball and as he was approaching goal looked up to see if he had a teammate running with him but was devoid of one so he used the outside of his right foot to strike it perfectly past the keeper….beautiful stuff by Morris!

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