In what has been the biggest move of this MLS offseason, Jordan Morris turned down Bundesliga side Werder Bremen to join Seattle Sounders as the highest paid Homegrown Player in league history.
If you’re a MLS supporter, you are ecstatic about the move. But if you’re a USMNT fan that doesn’t really care about MLS, Morris turning down an opportunity to play in one of the strongest leagues is frustrating.
However, the 21-year-old has his reasons for turning down Europe for a growing league with a shaky reputation.
“When I was over there (on trial with Werder Bremen), I realized that I was homesick. I just realized that my heart was truly in Seattle” Morris said.
His decision to return home is a logical one. He is a young player that is still trying to perfect his craft and that will be much easier if he has his family to guide and support him along the way. He also returns to a team that he’s familiar with, so fitting in will be much easier.
But, Morris threw away a golden ticket. Getting a chance to play in MLS is no joke. In fact it is an achievement only few people get to enjoy. However, playing in the Bundesliga is a much bigger accomplishment.
A chance to book a ticket to a storied club in a well-respected league easily fell on Morris’ lap through Jurgen Klinsmann and his assistant Andreas Herzog, a Bremen legend. That is an opportunity no player coming out of college in 2015 had. But Morris did, and he impressed at Bremen, leading to a contract offer.
Most unbiased soccer aficionado will argue that he should have packed his bags and moved to Germany. For a player that’s already generating buzz worldwide, if he failed in Germany, there will always be a place for him in MLS. But if he doesn’t make his mark with Seattle a chance to play at the highest level would doubtlessly disappear.
Although it is well known that Klinsmann would rather have his players playing in Europe, the former prolific striker offered supportive words to a player he hopes will one day blossom into a world-class finisher.
“I’m thrilled with the Sounders, that he goes into an environment that he knows, that he feels comfortable with, and that he feels now that ‘at this specific point in time, this is the best move for me.’ He feels he’s not ready for Europe. He feels the next big step for him is the Sounders where he knows everybody, and for us it’s great because the moment he steps now on the training field he’s in a professional environment” he said.
With Morris, MLS and Seattle are gaining a player that could potentially become – with the right training, mentor and attitude – a formidable force in front of goal. Someone that can fill the seats up, sell jerseys, draw more national coverage and hopefully, usurp the attention of the best clubs in the world in the near future.
“(Morris) has got qualities that I think are unteachable qualities,” Seattle’s head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Qualities that sometimes I’ve tried to teach a player and it just never becomes ingrained or an actual part of their game. So when you have that and you have the commitment to go with it and the dedication to go with it, you’re going to go a long way.”
While MLS and Seattle celebrate their huge victory, Klinsmann and his coaching staff are probably shaking their heads at what could have been.
At the moment, Bremen is a side that’s struggling to score goals and win games. They only have 17 goals in as many games, which means they are in dire need of a striker that can lift the workload off of Anthony Ujah, leads the team with seven goals, or maybe replace the Nigerian. And even though Morris starting or being a regular member of the game day squad was a long shot, it was still possible.
Just like he did with the USMNT, he could have been a welcomed surprise, put in a couple of solid performances and potentially saved Bremen from regelation.
While doing so, he would have undoubtedly garnered some interest from bigger clubs and improved drastically. Maybe transforming into a player that could average 20 goals per season in Europe.
But now that he is in Seattle, his development will certainly be slower and less polished. That isn’t a shot at MLS; it is just the fact of the matter. The North American league isn’t on the same level as the top 10 leagues in the world. And that includes Liga MX and the Championship.
Most players reach their peak, or some falter, at a slower pace in MLS because the league is behind everyone, at every level.
Because of the aforementioned reasons, MLS comes away as the winner in the Morris sweepstake; while USMNT can only hope he can quickly reach his full potential.
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