On August 28th, 2014 Jurgen Klinsmann did something that hadn’t been done in 15 years. He named a current collegiate player to the USMNT team roster. His name is Jordan Morris and he is 19 years old forward for the Stanford men’s soccer, the Seattle Sounders youth team, and the U-20 team. After the game on September 3rd he was able to add USMNT to his list of accomplishments. If his development goes according to plan, he could earn his first international cap; although that probably won’t be for another few years.
The roster spot that Jordan was granted may never have been available if it weren’t for the weird idiosyncratic rules of MLS that allows clubs to refuse to release its players from participating in international friendlies. There may be no all-star forwards in the pool at the moment comparable to a Daniel Sturridge or Edin Dzeko, but there are several proven internationals in Aron Johannsson, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Terrence Boyd. However, the lack of available MLS players convinced Jurgen to use the game against the Czech Republic to test his younger talent against senior level talent. Once again, Klinsmann is staying true to his promise to foster the young talent within the USMNT player pool in order to help the US one day compete for a World Cup title. Even though Jordan Morris never got on the field, the experience he gained in training could prove invaluable towards his development. Jurgen’s faith will be returned tenfold if US fans get to witness Jordan Morris score a goal in the 2022 World Cup.
Who is Jordan Morris? Is he just another flash in the pan or could he one day be a key cog in the USMNT team? Questions like these never have definite answers, and unfortunately the odds are stacked against him. It was not long ago that many believed Freddy Adu to be the next big thing in America soccer and now he is playing in Serbia for FK Jagodina and has since become a prime example of what hype and over expectation can do to a player. What is known about Jordan Morris is that he is a perfect combination of speed and strength. Not only can he beat players in 1:1 but he also is a playmaker who can use his playmaking creative abilities and vision to open up opportunities for his teammates. His mere presence on the field can distract the defense and open up holes for his team to exploit. In essence, he is the consummate forward who now needs to prove he can translate these skills to the faster paced club and international soccer environment. Skills like these, however, are hard to teach so if they are incubated and harnessed correctly they could open many opportunities for this young man.
Despite his talent, there are many other talented forwards in Division 1 college soccer that were over-looked in favor of Jordan Morris. Looking at his stat line from last season it is hard to see why. In 2013 he played his first season in the collegiate ranks and led all conference freshmen in assists (7) and points (19) and tied for lead in goals (6) while finishing second on his team in points. While the stats are notable they hardly seem to warrant a college player getting a call-up for the USMNT for the first time in 15 years as they are not particularly gaudy. What most likely led to his call-up were the performances he put on for Jurgen Klinsmann and his coaching staff behind closed doors. Before leaving to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup the USMNT had closed scrimmages with the Stanford men’s soccer team. Although there are no direct reports from that game, Jordan Morris acknowledged he scored a goal. His performances for the U-20 Youth team, which is coached by Jurgen Klinsmann’s well-respected assistant Tab Ramos, coupled with those closed-door scrimmages seem to have been just enough to convince Jurgen that Jordan was a talent worth nurturing.
During his time with the Seattle Sounders youth team Jordan scored 28 goals in 32 games. This was enough to earn him a scholarship to Stanford where he has continued to impress. At the moment he is furthering his development at Stanford and with the US national youth teams but at some point he must move on to a tougher test. Unfortunately, due to the striker partnership of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins for the Seattle Sounders senior team it is improbable that Jordan Morris gets any playing time on the senior team any time soon so his development will have to come from somewhere else. The college soccer system has a spotty record at developing talent which means if Jordan Morris is going to develop he must turn professional sooner rather than later. How his talent is developed will be a key factor in determining whether he realizes his potential or he may never again earn another call-up for the USMNT. If he develops accordingly he will be key factor towards providing the competitive depth needed to finally create a USMNT forward line capable of becoming an international force.
This article was first published on First Touch “”America’s Longest Running Free Football Weekly” please click here for the online PDF or if you are in the NYC metro area pickup a copy at your local soccer pub.