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Anderson Moura writes a detailed scout report about the Seattle Sounders’ attacking player, Jordan Morris.
When the Nigerian star Obafemi Martins got tired of the American dream and decided to play in the emerging Chinese Super League, the Seattle Sounders thought that the Paraguayan veteran Nelson Haedo Valdez would be the ideal replacement. What the green and blue club did not know is that the new rising star was right under their noses. There was no need to contract a designated player or anyone else to that spot, because the young Jordan Morris could handle hard times and be an important part of the MLS Cup title.
Valdez did not match the high expectations and the Sounders suffered a lasting blow when their biggest star, Clint Dempsey, had a heart problem diagnosed. Besides, when this shocking news landed in Seattle, the team was in poor form, with 12 defeats on its first 20 games. This was when the new coach, Brian Schmetzer, took the wheel and saw in Morris a possibility to shake things up. Months earlier, Jordan was invited to train with Werder Bremen and after an impressive performance in a friendly, the German club offered him a deal, but surprisingly the player turned it down because he believed that playing in his home country was best for him.
That decision led to him scoring the winning goal in the Conference Final, against Colorado Rapids, and a national title after the Sounders beat Toronto FC in a penalty shootout. Besides that, Morris scored 14 goals in the season and was also elected the best rookie of the league.
The former USA national first team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, was responsible for making many people ask this question when called the boy to a friendly against the Czech Republic in September 2014. Jordan, who was born on 26 October of 1994, was not on the field that day, but being on the bench while he was still playing at the college league, with Stanford, was already a spectacular achievement. It was something that had not happened since 1999. With his club, he was elected the best collegiate soccer player in USA and scored a brace against Clemson in the final game of NCAA Division.
In 2015 he scored his first international goal against Mexico and gave an assist in the American victory over The Netherlands. And the victory against Mexico gave us another curious story. Jordan was one of the favorites to win the Man Of The Match award since he had a great game, but he was not eligible because the award is sponsored by Budweiser and he was not of the legal drinking age – in America, it is 21.
Talent Radar Accolades
Eventually, the Sounders welcomed the boy back, after he had already played on the youth team. After the German experience mentioned above, he was used as a right-midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation in his first few games back in the MLS, but during the campaign he also played on the left side and did a good job when played as the only striker. Not that he scored many goals, but his continuous movement and change of positions helped his colleagues to find lots of spaces in rival defenses. Thanks to this unquiet style and his tough physical complexion – with emphasis on the really broad shoulders -, he was nicknamed by some as the ‘American Wayne Rooney’. Talking about his physical structure, it is noteworthy that he has been a diabetic since he was nine years old but is nevertheless is known for his vigor. And in his case, the word ‘always’ really means always, since Jordan was one of the players who had more minutes on the field during the 40 game calendar of MLS 2016 season.
Despite the versatility to play in diverse positions, Jordan’s characteristics are pretty much the same everywhere. He definitely feels more comfortable coming from in from behind the main striker. But something very interesting can happen when he plays as the lone center forward. When he is paired with a mobile attacking midfielder, things work very well, and that’s why the Uruguayan Nicolás Lodeiro has had an astonishing debut season in the MLS.
Because Morris just doesn’t stop moving and attracts defenders’ attention to himself, he creates space for his teammates. If his coach is looking for a target man or an old fashioned number 9, Morris is not the solution, but coaching his movements without the ball and combining it with that of other players who can read his game is a good strategy.
When he is playing in the middle and is on the verge of entering the area, he likes to be between the defenders, but isn’t comfortable receiving the ball with his back to the goal. He would rather look for a quick sprint to get to a ball in space and shoot quickly.
He is the kind of player who can plan out his next movements and find solutions while at high speed. He does not feel the need to slow down. Out wide, if he finds the rival fullback with no support from a covering defender, Jordan will most likely try to dribble past his man.
Sometimes this predatory instinct may lead him to the incorrect decision and the boy should try to wait for help from his teammates, despite the fact that the results of his solo play are often spectacular. Thinking about a future transfer to a league with rougher tackles and defenders, one thing that would not be a problem to Morris is staying on his feet and not pretending to be fouled. He definitely is not a diver and does not try to fool the referee.
All his restlessness would be useless if Jordan did not have the intelligence to act at the right moments, but he is clever enough to not get caught offside, and since he has enough muscular power, he has no need to precipitate and can ordinarily reach the ball faster than the defenders.
Jordan’s unceasing movement leaves his presence in the heat maps all over the field. Game 1 – vs LA Galaxy (2 goals); Game 2 – vs Colorado Rapids (1 goal); Game 3 – vs Real Salt Lake; Game 4 – vs Vancouver Whitecaps (heatmaps from whoscored.com)
Despite how well Jordan does when he comes in from the flanks to the area, he has to improve his play in the deeper areas of the pitch. Aside from this, he has got to do a better job on aerial crosses. He’s quite effective when he does get to the byline, but has to increase his repertoire.
Besides that, if Jordan does not improve his tactical awareness on the defensive side of the game, he will not get the attention of European giants, who demand more defensive commitment from their offensive players, even in the attacking areas in the form of high pressing. When he was left out of the USA squad called to the last Copa America, Klinsmann stressed that this was one the main reasons for his decision.
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