Jordan Morris isn’t the type of person to show up his dad, especially in the public eye. Dr. Michael Morris has long been the Seattle Sounders Chief Medical Director, making his opinions absolute to many a soccer star before his son broke through to the professional ranks.
On Sunday, though, Morris was battling illness and injury, in altitude no less. However, not even Michael Morris could talk his son into giving in on Sunday afternoon.
Morris scored the game-winning goal in the second half of Sunday’s Western Conference final, leading the Sounders to a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. The win sealed the Sounders’ place in the club’s first MLS Cup final after eight years of falling just short.
The Stanford product wasn’t a part of those seven prior teams, but he surely was a vital piece in the ongoing Sounders push.
“This thing was hurting a little bit, but I told (head coach Brian Schmetzer) I wanted to stay on,” Morris said. “He trusted me to stay on and do the work. It was really bad, I guess, but it’s just a knock. The guy cleated me. It’s something you can play through, for sure.
“(My dad) just came out and was checking that all the ligaments were in there but he was just pushing on where the guy cleated me, and I never yell at my dad, but I was kind of yelling at him there,” Morris said. “It was just so weird that it was my dad out there, but I’m glad to have him around.”
The Sounders will no doubt be glad to have had Morris around, even if it wasn’t a Morris anywhere near 100 percent. For the days preceding Sunday’s clash, Morris was left bed-ridden thanks to an illness that remains a bit of a mystery. On Sunday morning, Morris awoke feeling healthy enough to play.
Play he did. Morris sacrificed his body for the game’s lone goal, a finish in the second half that all but sealed an MLS Cup final berth. As Morris found himself on the ball from a Nelson Valdez pass, the young forward opted to chip a shot up and over a sliding Zac MacMath before being clattered in front of goal. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground with teammates surrounding him, hurt but certainly happy.
As the game wore on, discussions came. Schmetzer said he certainly wanted to take Morris out of the game, but Morris’ insistence kept him on. Judgement decisions like that are made on the fly, Schmetzer says, and the judgement at the time was that Morris was ready to go.
“He wasn’t feeling his best,” Schmetzer said. “Yeah, there were times in the first half where he didn’t look like the Jordan that we all know and love, but in the one moment that really counted, he was mentally strong enough, he pushed himself physically to score the goal that we needed to put us through.
“His maturation, his development, his ceiling which keeps getting higher and higher, he’s trending in the right direction,” Schmetzer added. “We love having around because he’s a kid that likes to learn and listen. He pays attention. He actually applies what you tell him.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Morris, and the Sounders. The forward’s early-season struggled were highly-publicized in the wake of overwhelming pressure and expectations. His exclusion from the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Copa America roster left him motivated as many questioned whether his career was on the right path.
On Sunday, everything felt justified. The Sounders were heading to MLS Cup with Morris leading the charge. It’s a time to celebrate, at least for a few days. The Sounders won’t know their opponent until Wednesday, a day that could confirm that CenturyLink Field will host it’s first MLS Cup final.
Maybe by Wednesday, Morris will be feeling a bit better. Maybe the illness will subside and the leg will heal. However, at least on Sunday as the final whistle blew, there was no pain; just overwhelming joy following a special win.
“It’s definitely a roller coaster,” Morris said. “It’s funny looking back. Everyone thought we were dead in the water, but now we’re going to the final. We always believed that we were good enough to make it and we proved a lot of people wrong, I think.”