While his Seattle Sounders FC teammates were steamrolling to a 4-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Lumen Field on Tuesday, Sounders attacker Jordan Morris was getting his opportunity to make his case for a World Cup roster spot with the US men’s national team.
It remains to be seen whether the Seattle homegrown ultimately wins one of those last spots to Qatar 2022, but on Tuesday he certainly had the type of moment that can help his case, rising up for a dramatic 91st-minute equalizer that salvaged the US a chaotic 1-1 draw at El Salvador.
For Morris, it was a cathartic moment, given his long road back to the international level that has seen him overcome two separate ACL tears over the past four years.
“You know, I’m a goal-scorer, and so that’s obviously what you live on,” Morris told reporters postgame. “For me it had been a long time with the national team since my last goal, going through the COVID year in 2020, where we didn’t play any games. Then coming back and being out all of ‘21 with my injury, it had been since 2019 since I scored a goal with the national team.
While Tuesday’s match was far from the prettiest for the US, head coach Gregg Berhalter said the ending was also the type of experience that can prove invaluable in building culture and camaraderie given the wild sequence of events that took place on the field. It started with an improbable golazo from El Salvador’s Alexander Larin that put the Yanks down 1-0 in the 35th minute, and continued in an overall feisty second half that featured two red cards (one to each side) in a nine-minute span in the second half.
The emotion was evident in the postgame locker room, where Berhalter relayed that Morris was mobbed by his jubilant teammates in celebration of the late leveler, the type of moment that the Yanks’ coach said can help “build a team”.
“As Jordan came into the locker room after the game, this is a guy that hasn’t played much throughout this camp, and he walks into the locker room and the whole group went nuts, started cheering his name,” Berhalter said. “And that’s what type of group this is. It’s a selfless team. It’s a group that’s concerned about their teammates, concerned about their teammates performing well, and supporting their teammates at all moments. And it was a really nice moment to see, to see him being embraced by the group.”
With the Sounders rolling on Tuesday in the absence of Morris and several other of their internationals, Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer said he was happy to hear his homegrown had found the scoresheet, though he’d only seen one brief highlight on the phone of goalkeeper coach Tommy Dutra in the postgame locker room.
“It’s good for Jordan to score, goal-scorers like to have that little bit of momentum, but he’ll be fine when he comes back,” Schmetzer said. “He’s been a great player for us and sometimes the heartache, the success, national team, club, it does all fit together with the players.
“But I think they’re all smart enough to understand that there are certain differences between the two entities. So Jordan knows he’s from Seattle, Mercer Island, it’s a great storyline for us. He works hard for us all the time. He works hard for the national team. Tonight I’ll watch the highlights, good for him.”