Former U.S. international Brian McBride believes Seattle Sounders rookie Jordan Morris has eliminated any doubt about his motivations for signing with the MLS side prior to the season.
Off a successful collegiate career at Stanford, the already-capped Morris had a choice — sign with relegation-threatened Bundesliga club Werder Bremen or take a large homegrown contract with the Sounders, where his father is the chief medical director.
Bypassing a chance in Germany for the more familiar was questioned by many at the time. But McBride, who spoke to Goal USA courtesy of an Allstate-sponsored clinic for underfunded youth soccer, says Morris’ debut season should have answered critics after the striker scored 12 goals and won the league's Rookie of the Year award.
“When he decided to stay in Seattle, there was always going to be the big question: ‘Was he doing it because it was the easy way out?'” McBride said. “And if you do that, at lot of times, that means you don’t push yourself and you don’t progress.
“He’s done nothing like that. He’s progressed, he’s pushed himself. He’s been humble while doing those things and he’s really been a good teammate along the way.”
Specifically, McBride credited Morris with his selfless play alongside Clint Dempsey earlier in the season.
“Early in the season, when he and Clint (Dempsey) were partnering together, there were times when he could have shot, and in all actuality probably should have, but he wanted to find Clint,” McBride said. “He wanted to show he’s a team player — he wanted to make others look good and be good.
“Now, since Clint’s not there, he’s gotten into those positions and said, 'I have to shoot, I have to do something other than find that pass,' and I think it’s helped grow his game because when he gets into a position where hopefully Clint is back next year, he’ll understand both sides of it.”
Beyond just his team play and decision making, McBride spoke highly of the physical and technical aspects of the forward’s game.
“He’s blistering fast — you wouldn’t know it from looking at him and say ‘I think he’s pretty quick’ when in fact he is — he has tons of pace,” McBride said. “But he’s also got good technique. I think his play with his back to goal has improved.”
Morris and the Sounders take on Toronto FC in the MLS Cup final (8 p.m ET, Fox) on Saturday.