The decision finally arrived in a phone call from Germany just a few days ago. Jordan Morris assessed his surroundings during a trial with Werder Bremen and brought the international tug-of-war for his signature to a close at long last. He called his parents and spoke earnestly with them about the decision he planned to make.
He knew what he wanted in his heart, he said he told them. It was the same thing he had wanted since he was a child. It was the same thing he texted to Seattle coach Sigi Schmid before his last session with Bremen to tip his hand to his future club. More than anything else, he wanted to play for the Sounders.
“I was just over there and I was just like, ‘This isn’t necessarily where I want to be right now,’” Morris recalled during a teleconference after his official unveiling in Seattle on Thursday afternoon. “I called my parents and we had a talk. As I said [earlier in the day], it definitely reaffirmed my decision that I want to be in Seattle, that my heart was in Seattle. I sat down with them and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’ Of course, I was thankful to Bremen for letting me come over, but I just really felt in my heart that this was the right decision and this is where I wanted to be. I’m really excited. I’m looking forward to the season. And I’m thankful to these guys for bringing me on.”
Even with those bonds firmly in place, Morris followed his own path. He chose to attend Stanford and soak up the collegiate experience. He flourished under the watchful eye of Cardinal coach Jeremy Gunn and maintained his commitment to his teammates and their shared goals for longer than most of his peers would have in the same situations. He never wavered from his desire to pursue his education, even as United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann plucked him out the youth ranks and thrust him into the full national team.
Those governing principles drove the 21-year-old to pursue his options after winning the NCAA title with Stanford last month. He listened to Klinsmann and U.S. under-23 coach Andreas Herzog when they laid out his options and put the pieces in place for a trial overseas. He opted to join Bremen to survey the possibilities for himself. He trusted himself enough to carry out the process genuinely as the Sounders waited patiently for a decision.
Everyone in Seattle knew Morris and his family well enough to provide him with the necessary space to make the choice. Seattle investor/operator Adrian Hanauer described the pursuit of Morris as a 10-year signing process given the relationship between the Sounders and the Morris family. Sounders general manager and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said he sat down with Michael Morris and a copy of the MLS rules and regulations to explain what he could offer under the Homegrown rules and tender the most lucrative Homegrown contract in the history of the league. And then everyone waited to see what Morris would do.
“We did that, honestly, pretty early in the process,” Lagerwey said. “Nothing has really changed since then. We wanted to put our best foot forward. We knew Jordan was the player we wanted. We knew were willing to commit those resources. We didn’t see any reason to dance around it. We thought our best chance was to put best offer on the table from the get go and then stick with it. That’s what we did. Ultimately, Jordan chose to sign with the Sounders. I’m absolutely positive it wasn’t for the money. It’s because he wants to be here. That augurs well for the future for Jordan and the Sounders.”
Make no mistake: possibility and potential drove this pursuit and all of that interest on both sides of the Atlantic. Morris is still a projection at this point, a talented prospect with no professional experience. His success or failure hinges on his ability to make the transition smoothly and settle into his new demands quickly. There are no guarantees, even with those promising steps at the international level behind him. It is down to him to grasp the opportunities afforded to him with both hands and justify the scrutiny surrounding his every decision and his every move.
“Any time we can add a good player, that’s the most important thing that we’re trying to do,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Jordan is a forward who can run on the flanks. He’s a forward who can get himself into wide spaces. We’re probably going to go more with a three-pronged attack next year as well. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to play amongst those three.”
All of those factors entered the deliberations as Morris pondered his options, but he leaned on his heart the most. In the end, the decision rested solely with him. He shared his verdict on that fateful day and then followed the path he always envisioned back to his hometown, his family and his team.
“Honestly, since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to end up in Seattle,” Morris said. “The opportunity came up to go over to Germany and it was a really cool experience, but my heart was always kind of in Seattle. Going over there was fun, but it reaffirmed my decision that this is where I want to be.”