Two years ago, Jordan Morris exploded onto the national team scene in the United States, breaking into the senior squad as a 20-year-old college player and earning more than 10 caps before his 22nd birthday. But as time passed, many felt Morris had become overhyped, and that he couldn’t deliver for the USMNT like many thought he could.
His goalscoring stats would certainly support that idea, with just one in 11 senior caps for the national team, something that has many fans already looking to the next option at striker. But to dismiss Morris already would be a huge mistake, because he’s been busy proving with the Seattle Sounders just how good he can be.
On Saturday in a huge Cascadia rivalry match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, Morris gave an absolutely fantastic performance. All match long he was popping up all over the final third to provide a constant goalscoring threat. Ultimately Morris scored the only goal in the match to win it for the Sounders with a beautiful diving header in the 81st minute.
Scoring game-winning goals is becoming kind of old hat for Morris at this point — he’s scored five game-winners in his rookie season in MLS, a record for first-year players. His lone USMNT strike was a game-winner as well, scoring the first goal in a 2-0 friendly win over Mexico. Morris has a knack for scoring big goals, and scoring plenty of other aside, standing as one of the few MLS rookies to score at least 10 goals in a season.
But Morris’ game, and Morris’ quality, is about so much more than his goals. He’s always going to be one of the most driven players on the pitch, constantly staying in motion, probing the defense to find any opening he can for a defense-splitting run, or dropping deep to pick up the ball and run it up to his strike partner. He applies that strong work rate in defense, too, always willing to track back to tie up a player pushing up the pitch, or cover someone running on the ball on a counter attack.
Those are qualities that the USMNT needs more of, not less, and Morris has been showing this season in MLS that he belongs in the national team. Not just as an optional player that Jurgen Klinsmann can call in if he feels like he needs another player like him — Morris should be one of the automatic choices that is always called into the team when he’s healthy.
Morris has gotten past the hype. He’s established himself as a good player with the potential to be much more. Now it’s time for him to show what he can do on the national stage as a core member of the USMNT, and to start becoming the star his skills say that he can be.