I remember the date vividly: February 22, 2018. It’s a date that sends shivers through every Seattle Sounders fan.
On that day, star forward Jordan Morris went down with a torn ACL while playing Santa Luca in the CONCACAF Champions League. It sent shock waves through the entire organization and the Seattle soccer community.
So many questions: Is his career over? Will he ever play at a high level again? Can he return to form as one of the rising stars in U.S. soccer? A player whose game relies so much on quick bursts of speed – how can he possibly return to form?
Now, almost 20 months after that fateful day, I think it is safe to say that Morris is back, and he is better than ever.
Last Tuesday, Morris was named Major League Soccer’s Comeback Player of the Year. The voting wasn’t even close. Quite an accomplishment.
The award is a nice tribute, but if you want true, hardcore evidence that Morris is back to form, look no further than Saturday’s MSL playoff game against F.C. Dallas.
Morris scored a hat trick (three goals) to save the Sounders from embarrassment after surrendering a two-goal lead before eventually winning 4-3 in overtime.
Jordan Morris to the rescue . . . again.
It was just over a week ago that Morris raced onto a failed back pass to score the game-winning goal against Minnesota in the regular-season finale and lock up the No. 2 playoff seed. His star couldn’t have been brighter until Saturday when he fought off cramps and heavy legs to score the game winner in the 113th minute.
The Sounders are 8-1-2 when Morris gets on the score sheet with either a goal or an assist. On the season he now has 13 goals and seven assists in 27 games. Impressive numbers indeed and even more so when you factor in the seven games he missed midseason with a hamstring injury.
Morris flew out of the blocks to start the season, scoring two goals in the opening game in a 4-1 win over FC Cincinnati. It appeared all fears were put to rest about his knee and whether it would affect his speed.
He scored another goal in the team’s third game of the campaign, and the Sounders went on to win their first five games. Fans began to wonder if this could be the team’s best season ever.
Then reality set in. Morris went eight games where he only scored one goal, and the hamstring injury left many questioning whether the quick start was just an aberration, and it would take more time for him to truly recover and get his touch back.
Fortunately, as the season progressed and he split time between the Sounders and playing for the U.S. National Team, he continued to get stronger, faster and more confident.
Head coach Brian Schmetzer mentioned how extra film work and training with assistant coach Preki were really paying off for Morris. He was finally becoming a student of the game and started using more than just his amazing physical gifts to give him an edge.
It’s easy to see how his game has progressed. No longer is he afraid to use his left foot or to challenge opponents one-on-one. In the past he has had difficulty making decisions on the run – whether to be selfish and go at the goal or to lay the ball off for his teammates. Too many times it was the latter.
Now you can see the confidence he has in his game. Time and time again he’s in the right spot at the right time. Two of his goals on Saturday showcase that point. He latched on to bouncing balls in the box and was able to convert. In the past, those would have been just chances and not goals.
On Wednesday, the Sounders will host Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinals. All indications are this should be another fantastic game.
The last time the two teams met, Real Salt Lake pounded the Sounders for a 3-0 win in Utah. They outshot Seattle 16-6, and the Sounders failed to record a shot on goal in the first half. Seattle will be looking for revenge.
A much better performance will be needed against Real who are coming off a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
Look for Jordan Morris to once again shine with the pressure on. He has done it all year and especially in the second half of the season.
If it were not for the seasons Carlos Vela (L.A. FC) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L.A. Galaxy) have had, Morris might be in the conversation for the league’s best player. For now, we’ll take Jordan Morris as our team MVP with more soccer to be played.