Jordan Morris has enjoyed a stellar start to the 2023 MLS season, but Saturday’s Man of the Match performance showed that the 28-year-old is on another level for the Seattle Sounders, regardless of where he plays on the field.
Morris got the start at the No. 9 position and walked away with his first four-goal performance as the Sounders rolled past Sporting KC 4-1 at Children’s Mercy Park. Morris became the first player in Sounders history to score four goals in a single game and currently leads the league with seven goals this season in four appearances.
Aided by Leo Chu and Nico Lodeiro’s distribution on his four goals, Morris continued his MVP-caliber start to the year as the Sounders rebounded from a disappointing Week 4 result.
“Definitely an outstanding game,” Morris said postmatch. “I think in my professional career, I’ve had a couple braces and one hat trick. But never ever in my career had four goals. Maybe as a youth player, but it’s been a long, long time and it means a lot.
“I always say I’m a goal-scorer. I thrive on being able to score goals,” Morris added.
Morris’ move to the No. 9 came out of necessity with Raul Ruidiaz on international duty and offseason acquisition Heber sidelined due to a hamstring injury. The Sounders also needed to fight back early after Sporting KC took an early 1-0 advantage through William Agada’s fifth-minute finish.
Still, the mountain wasn’t too difficult for the Sounders to climb and Morris delivered goals in all different ways on the field. Three of his goals came off of right foot and from clinical finishes in the box while his fourth and final goal came at the back post on a strong header. It was a great all-around performance from Morris, who showed great awareness in-and-around the box for all four of his goals.
“It’s somewhere I’ve played before,” Morris said of his move to the No. 9 “..[The responsibilities] are a little bit different than pressing as a winger obviously, so just managing that and understanding my [defensive] responsibilities with that. And then, again, doing, what I try to do best, which is stretch teams and make space underneath for Nico [Lodeiro] and Albert [Rusnak].
“Obviously, Léo playing out wide had a really, really good game and for me when he got the ball out wide, or anyone out wide got the ball, it was to be the guy in the box and try to get on the end of things,” Morris added.
Morris’ seven goals in 2023 has already tied his production from the entire 2022 campaign and certainly has him on pace to set a new career-high in goals. Not only was Morris able to step up in a big way at forward, he has continued to round out his game as an attacking player, finding any way to help the team succeed.
Now as a five-match April schedule is set to begin with a trip to rivals L.A. Galaxy, the Sounders will hope Morris can continue to be impactful regardless of where Schmetzer decides to start him.
“Jordan has certainly been on a tear to start the year, so credit to him,” Schmetzer said. “I think all four of his goals were good finishes, and his final goal where he headed it low into the net was another example of his continued work to improve at that part of his game.”
He is a number 9, and always has been, who was pushed out wide in order to accommodate DP strikers i.e. Dempsey than Ruidiaz. Seattle said hey we have a player who can play at wing in Morris so let’s put him out wide. His best goal scoring season came when he was played more at striker than he was out on the wing because Dempsey was in and out of injuries that year. Schmetzer should find a way to play Morris and Ruidiaz up top together.
I think some of it is the change in tactics across soccer LW vs CF. Not many teams playing with 2 strikers anymore and with wingers now usually in the channels instead of on the touch line it’s not hugely different. As LW he’s usually going against a RB who he has a size and strength advantage on so he can still just overpower them. As CF that advantage is lost some often going 1 on 2 against bigger stronger CBs. His scoring rate in MLS is pretty close at both positions. Also, I think it was in some response to him being so incredibly one footed his first few years. I get why people’s jaws drop over Cowell’s athleticism, but Morris is a much better player right now. If development was linear I’d say “yeah play Cade now so he’ll be ready in 2026.” However, there’s no guarantee he’ll make those strides to be playing anywhere near level in four years. How many guys on that 2019 U20 team haven’t done anything since Gloster, Servania, Scott, Keita, Rennicks, Soto, Dos Santos, even my guy Llanez. It was either late 2018 or 2019 I was discussing that Weah had passed Andrew Carleton and the guy was arguing how could that be Andrew was so good with U17s. Some guys just don’t get to that level and all the caps in the world won’t make it happen. Cowell may get there but he’s not ready for a first choice roster right now. Last night he made a great play saving a ball most wouldn’t get to with a little flick back over his head to which he then drove up the sideline. When he got near the box Toronto’s RB 18 yr old Canadian Marshall-Rutty just easily tackles the ball away. You’re left saying oh what a play, but it won’t no where because he’s not technical enough consistently in the final third.
Slowly it’s going back to a two striker set up. A lot of teams are going to a 3-5-2, 4-3-1-2 or variations of those. Attacking players are becoming more half space merchants instead of traditional wingers. So now they are utilizing wing backs for that width. And it’s becoming harder to find lone 9’s that can carry the scoring load for teams.
And generally as wingers age, they become strikers because they don’t have that speed anymore.
Morris just scored 4 g in one night, Cowell didn’t have 4 g all last season. If you were celebrating no Jordan Morris and complaining about no Cowell you need to do some serious soul searching.
Always thought Morris was a better #9 than he was a winger (where he’s an above-average MLS player and that’s about it), it’s like Seattle just moved him there to accommodate some DP or other (don’t even remember who it was offhand at the moment) and it seemed to be working OK so it stuck. I well-remember when Klinsmann found him right off the practice field at Stanford it truly did look like Morris might be the find of the decade and a guy who could well be the USMNT’s starting #9 for the future…then the move to RW happened, those knee injuries happened – one of them on a loan spell to Swansea that could have put him in the Prem or at the least a high-level Championship squad – and hey, time passes, and here is at 28 and we sort of forgot all about him.
Probably too late at this juncture for Morris to get that Europe move and he’s certainly been overtaken by younger talent with the Nats, but I still think he can have a pretty good finish to the last 5-6 years of his career and certainly play some more Gold Cups for the USMNT. And who knows? Maybe he could be a Jamie Vardy type, have himself a late-blooming career…stranger stuff has happened.