Jordan Morris is not – nor likely will ever be – a hold-up striker.
There was some doubt about this early in his career. At Stanford under Jeremy Gunn, Morris was used as one of the two attacking broadsides up top in a fairly rigid 4-4-2. Wherever Morris would roam – and he roamed – he ended up corralling a lot of over-the-top balls. Sometimes he’d do so with his back to goal, with mixed results. It was how the system worked.
If Steven Gerrard’s truncated half season with the LA Galaxy in 2015 was not a full fledged dumpster fire, then it was something resembling a small blaze in a dirty trash can.
Gerrard was OK in spurts, leaning on his wooden, rickety legs to spray a few incisive passes and amble around the deep woods of the Galaxy midfield in an attempt to find some meaning. He was hardly a disaster, although for $6 million you wonder what you should reasonably expect.
Garth Lagerwey hustled. He hustled for weeks and months, days tumbling into one another as the fish squirmed on the end of a line plunged deep below the darkest spaces of the water. This was the Lagerwey Way. Without knowing the outcome, just keep the thing on the line. Keep it there. Whatever happens, at least you gave it every chance to surface first.
By the start of the summer of 2016, Lagerwey and Nico Lodeiro knew one another. Maybe not as friends bonded by time, but certainly as something more than mere acquaintances. When Lagerwey and Jason Kreis were building Real Salt Lake into a national power in the crook of the Wasatch Range, they had a policy of meeting players face to face before signing them. Lagerwey views this business, quite rightly, as an interpersonal one.
Get the measure of a man and he’ll trust you. Get him to trust you and the ink will dry fast.
Jordan Morris is on some kind of form lately. As if directly responding to Jurgen Klinsmann’s bizarre and empirically incorrect decision to leave him off the Copa America 23-man roster, Morris has scored four times since the tournament started.
That includes a brace (it was almost a hat trick) against West Ham in an international friendly in Seattle on Tuesday night. Morris now has six goals in the league and eight in all competitions as a pro, and this is probably my favorite.
Let’s for a moment remember that soccer happened in the U.S. in the 1980′s, and in large part it was just one giant party of men in excessively short shorts kicking the side of an innocent barn. Exhibit A, here.
Here’s the actual transcript from this 30-second treasure trove of AMERICAN GRITSPIRIT from a Sounders NASL commercial. The most amazing thing about this ad is that it basically admits the game you’re about to see is rugbysoccer for 90 minutes. And you’ll like this black eye we’re about to give you, because you have no other options, Abigal Mae.
VOICEOVER:Soccer Sounders style.
WEIRD SONG:Playing the game to win. That’s the name of the game we play.
VO:Our style isn’t a ballet with the ball. It’s 90 minutes flat out.
WS:Red and white. Black and blue (???????). Ohhh the Sounders, coming at you.
VO:Soccer finally comes of age in the USA (as he says this, a cross into the box hits a defender’s raised arm. Nothing happens).
WS:Oooh the Sounders playing it. Making it (making what??? Am I taking barbiturates???). Playing the game to win.
If you had any inkling of what American soccer has had to overcome in the past 15 years, the fact that this slogan was considered OK for an entire commercial is just grand. We may not be able to produce balletic grace on ball, but we will definitely dislocate your knee cap and leave you with internal hemorrhaging.
Every year, the return of CONCACAF Champions League play consistently triggers the debate of the tournament’s format, MLS’ need to actually win the thing and excuses as to why they don’t.
The quarterfinal matchups for 2016 are particularly compelling because four MLS teams find themselves up against four Liga MX sides. In the never ending quest to catch up with Liga MX, MLS finds ways to minimize the implications of playing club teams south of the border. Tuesday’s results were mixed: D.C. United lost 2-0 on the road against Queretaro, and Seattle conceded a soft goal late in the second half to draw 2-2 against Club America.
There was one clear highlight from Tuesday, aside from the new turf in Seattle. Clint Dempsey curled in this tasty free kick to open the scoring in the Pacific Northwest.
Jordan Morris cleared the final step to the showroom floor at Seattle’s The Ninety and the flashbulbs popped and crackled like fireworks. Flanked by Adrian Hanauer, Garth Lagerwey, Sigi Schmid and Chris Henderson – the club’s most visible and influential decision makers in matters of player personnel – Morris sheepishly walked to the middle seat of the dais.
Morris, wearing a blazer and a button-down shirt and facing a packed room of about 100 people, settled into his seat and readied to hear the announcement he’d been waiting to hear for years. The kid who’d been in the stands for Seattle’s first ever MLS game in 2009 almost couldn’t believe he was here at all.
There is an old truism in life that you do your best work out of a place of comfort. This is often mistaken for a vague idea of something called a ‘comfort zone,’ and I’d like to wave away those clouds here. In reality, the notion of motivation dovetails into two definitive camps with a million branching sub-genres: those who are motivated by circumstance and those who are motivated by surroundings.
It is easy to survey from a high position and say that all players are made better by more competitive environs, regardless of their physical location. The Bundesliga is better than MLS, and therefore any Bundesliga club is better than any MLS club for every player. The fact that we are dealing with humanity, and not mathematical equations, makes this a farcical idea. It may be better for more players more often than not, but what is the percentage here? 70? 60? 51?