Jordan Morris can make his own decisions, says USMNT U23 coach
United States forward Jordan Morris is going to make his own decision about his first professional club, according to U.S. under-23 coach Andreas Herzog.
Morris is weighing his options after declaring his intention to leave Stanford and turn professional on Tuesday. He is expected to train with German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen in Turkey next week before reporting to U.S. national team camp in southern California.
Werder Bremen joined MLS side Seattle Sounders in the race to sign the 21-year-old forward in the process. Seattle offered Morris the richest Homegrown contract in MLS history to sign with the club late last year.
"He has two great options," Herzog said in an exclusive interview with FOX Soccer on Thursday. "Sigi Schmid is the coach in Seattle and I played under him [with LA Galaxy in 2004]. I know that Seattle is, every year, always close to winning the championship, winning the title. It would be good for Jordan.
"On the other side, every player is an individual," Herzog continued. "Maybe for one it is better to go to another country to start. For the other one, maybe he needs the surroundings, the family around him, the friends around him. That’s a huge interest. That’s important for everyone. It’s important for Jordan that he feels confident and that he starts his professional career right now in the best shape possible because it’s important for our men’s national team and the Olympic team, too."
Morris’ path to the Werder Bremen spell started when Herzog’s former club reached out for information last year. Bremen started the scouting process and eventually decided to invite Morris to join the club for a training stint during the Bundesliga winter break.
"They were asking me about Jordan 6-7 months ago," Herzog said. "They were scouting him for the last 6 months or so. Of course I told them a lot of good things. When he plays with the Olympic team or with the men’s national team, you can see he’s a young, powerful striker with a lot of qualities. That’s how it is."
"On the other side of things, for MLS, it’s huge to have great players — including our men’s national team players — because the league is competitive," Herzog continued. "It’s getting better and better. That’s what we all want. And, on the other side, maybe it’s good to have some players abroad in Mexico or Europe, too. That’s good for the reputation for U.S. Soccer, too."
Those exchanges were not a part of a desire to steer Morris toward a European club, Herzog insisted. Herzog said he was "completely misquoted" as part of a German report on Wednesday, and reinforce that he and U.S. Soccer do not have a plan to send as many players to Europe as possible. He also underscored the importance of MLS to the Olympic qualifying efforts and the upcoming national team camp (20 of the 23 players feature for MLS clubs).
Instead of voicing his preference for one move or the other, Herzog focused on the potential benefits. The former Austria captain highlighted the potential fit for Morris in Bremen, but he also noted how he praised the growth of MLS to people he encountered in Europe and how the Sounders might work for Morris, too.
All of those factors are thrown into the mix as Morris contemplates his options and decides on his future. Herzog said the final decision rests solely with Morris in the days and the weeks ahead.
"Of course, I give a young player like Jordan — I always give him advice," Herzog said. "I think, if it’s helpful or not, that’s his decision. When I was a player, I was talking to older players or former players, other people and advisers. In the end, it’s Jordan’s decision where he wants to play and where he feels the most comfortable."