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SBI USMNT Player of the Year: Jordan Morris

The 2019 calendar year was a mixed bag for the U.S. Men’s National Team, with Gregg Berhalter’s first year in charge yielding the predictable growing pains of a young coach adapting to his first national team coaching job.

The year was a memorable one for several American players, including Christian Pulisic, who made a record-setting transfer to Chelsea, and Jordan Morris, who helped lead the Seattle Sounders to another MLS Cup title.

Both Pulisic and Morris enjoyed success for both club and country, putting them at the forefront in the race for U.S. Soccer’s Men’s Player of the Year award. The award is based predominantly on national team performances, with club performance serving as a secondary factor.

Morris is SBI’s selection for USMNT Player of the Year after his outstanding season in MLS, and also his impressive form for the national team, particularly in the second half of the year. He gradually worked his way up Berhalter’s depth chart, earning a start in the Gold Cup final, and hit his stride form-wise in the summer and into the fall, where he was instrumental in Seattle’s championship run.

Morris was the USMNT’s best player down the stretch, delivering crucial performances in all three of the team’s Nations League victories to secure first place in the group, and book a place in the Nations League semifinals.

Here is SBI’s list, in order, of the top USMNT performers in 2019:

1. Jordan Morris

Several standout playoff performances on the way to an MLS Cup title, and multiple Man of the Match performances in Nations League, helped Morris earn SBI’s USMNT Player of the Year award just one year after he was forced to miss a year with a torn ACL.

Morris recorded 10 goals and seven assists for the Sounders during the regular season, then contributed three goals and an assist in the playoffs. For the USMNT, Morris recorded five goals and a team-high six assists, and helped lead the American attack to its November wins over Cuba and Canada.

2. Christian Pulisic

The year began with word that Pulisic would be heading to Chelsea on a record-setting transfer, but that also meant spending half a season in limbo at Borussia Dortmund. He enjoyed a solid showing with the USMNT at the Gold Cup, though he struggled to make his mark in the second half of 2019.

Pulisic hit rock-bottom in the USMNT loss to Canada, which coincided with a stint on the bench at Chelsea, but he rebounded from that to hit an outstanding run of form with the Premier League giants and heads into 2020 riding high.

3. Weston McKennie

McKennie made his own good case for Player of the Year consideration with his production for the USMNT and continued status as a regular starter for Schalke. He stepped up with some good showings at the Gold Cup, though he struggled in the final (as did several others).

McKennie registered five goals and two assists for the USMNT in 2019, and is finishing the year in good form for Schalke, which heads into the new year in the thick of the title race in the wide-open Bundesliga.

4. Aaron Long

The New York Red Bulls defender followed up his breakout 2018 with his entry into the national team picture as a regular starter. He tied Tim Ream for most USMNT starts in 2019 with 14, and scored three goals while emerging as the team’s most consistent defender.

Long’s candidacy for the player of the year award was hurt by what was seen as a step back in club form. To be fair, his 2018 with the Red Bulls was always going to be hard to match, but his national team exploits were impressive, and could lead to a winter transfer to a top European league.

5. Zack Steffen

Steffen was forced the miss the final USMNT matches of 2019, but that doesn’t take away from a strong year for the standout goalkeeper, who started the year with a transfer to Manchester City. After spending a half season with the Columbus Crew, Steffen had a good showing at the Gold Cup before heading to Europe.

Since joining Fortuna Dusseldorf, Steffen has had a very good run of form with the Bundesliga club, and while a battle with knee tendinitis has slowed him a bit, Steffen is still closing out a solid year.


What do you think of SBI’s ranking of USMNT players? Who would you have included that we left out? Who was your pick for Player of the Year?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Did anyone state why Pulisic had a year to deserve it. Nope, just he plays for Chelsea, their dream come true!
    He played well for a few weeks at Chelsea, but couldn’t lead the nat team for the most part.
    Morris, had an incredible year for the Nat Team. He did so well that people who hate him for playing here, have him as a lock for starter now. Not like they want that…at all.
    He had an incredible year for the Sounders too. Converting from someone that had no clue how to score from the wing and didn’t cross the ball well to the exact opposite. Is there room for improvement, of course, and it looks like that will happen too.

  2. Define the award, guys. With a name like “USMNT PLayer of the Year”, one might think this is determined by form/contributions for the Nats. But the article itself spends considerable time discussing each player’s club form/contributions. So what’s the standard?

    • You’re exactly right, GP. He calls the award one thing, but then focuses on Morris’ MLS season. And that factor cannot win out against Pulisic who has impressed at Chelsea beyond anyone’s expectations. Honestly, it can’t win out against McKennie at Schalke or how Steffen has quickly established himself as one of the top goalies in the Bundesliga.

  3. if you look at their NT game logs you’d see that right now they are contributing goals and assists at a similar rate (every other game or so) and one might give the nod to morris for being here and continuing to contribute in friendlies and LoN through the fall, where after the jamaica gold cup semi pulisic had 1 assist the rest of the year (against cuba) and then missed for injury.

  4. It’s not that complicated. The award goes to the Payer that performed the best for the “UNITED STATES MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM”. Kind of cruel of Ives not to point that out instead of letting some of you sound like complete morons.
    Even then, Pulisic had a good month of November but that was about it for the year.
    Slim pickings but Morris deserves the award.

  5. Morris is improving but he still has to work on close control. Breaking bunkered teams down is not his strength, but I do see improvement. Is he player of the year? When he makes a team like Chelsea, we’ll talk.

    • You clearly came into this thread with your own narrative because the award is for the USMNT, not club play…..please try and stay on task smh

      • Ronniet: Don’t look now, but you clearly came in with your on narrative. Ives gets to make the rules for this award (it’s his website after all), and this was the justification he gave for choosing Morris: “Morris is SBI’s selection for USMNT Player of the Year after his outstanding season in MLS, and also his impressive form for the national team, particularly in the second half of the year.”

        The primary basis for the award was his MLS form and, secondarily, for how he played with USMNT “particularly in the second half of the year.” So club form is the main factor. I won’t deny he had a successful MLS campaign, but you can’t possibly think that it was more impressive than what Pulisic has accomplished in his first 5 months at a top club in a top league?

      • Imperative Voice
        Why do you say start here? I don’t think he is leaving. I don’t think he should. He could got the route of another Sounder Yedlin I guess.
        Why? He is winning titles, enjoying soccer.
        Yedlin? He is hoping he moves to a better team..that’s it.

  6. It was a close one, but it’s not like he didn’t deserve it. At this point everyone who is still ridiculing him for staying in MLS vs. going to Europe is just a hopeless Eurosnob. Europe works out for some, but not for all and it’s likely that he did himself a huge favor. He makes $1mm a year in his hometown, plays in front of 40,000 home fan’s, and would start for USMNT if there was a WC game tomorrow. That’s the case for a very small number of players who chose to start their career in Europe.

    Now, at this point, he is an established player, and I really would like to see how he would handle playing for a team like … let’s say Werder Bremen

  7. In a surprising twist….SOMEONE AGREES! Nice work, JoMo. He has brought some much-needed creativity to the team in the past few games, unlike Weston and Christian, who are playing well for their clubs but have fallen flat for the US.

  8. Actually a fairly disappointing group of finalists who have struggled with either club or country. I’m hoping that 2020 finds these players (and others) finally begin to obtain some consistency in form for Club & Country. I believes Adams return to the USMNT will help improve their performances for Country (McKennie & Long in particular).
    I think 2020 is going to be a very interesting year for our players. One in which we’ll hopefully see some real strides and competition for roster spots….
    Adams, Pulisic, McKennie, Dest, Weah, Brooks, and others will hopefully stay healthy and give us a strong core of players to build around.

  9. Shouldn’t it just be weighted for performances for the national team…since it is called USMNT player of the year…still campaigning for Long to get some deserved recognition and respect…5% of the fan vote is a cruel joke.

  10. Ridiculous. Pulisic is playing at the highest level of any American in history. Morris is a very good MLS player who didn’t even make the SBI first team in MLS.

    • pulisic nats form has not been great last time he scored was what in the GC? Morris has been scoring Uruguay was a tough opponent everyone else like Canada and Cuba are weak.

      • Cuba. He’s only played 3 times since the GC so 1 goal in three matches is a little off for him but good for most.

    • Gary: That was the exact word that came to mind when I read the headline. Ridiculous. So it’s hard to take the rest of the article seriously. “Morris is SBI’s selection for USMNT Player of the Year after his outstanding season in MLS, and also his impressive form for the national team” How can you type that with a straight face when Pulisic, McKennie and Steffen are all playing (and starting) in far superior leagues than MLS?


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