Reports surfaced Monday that Jordan Morris, the Mercer Island High and Stanford standout and former Sounders Academy player who has seven caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team, is ready to forego his senior season and turn pro, according to a Goal.com story.
While Goal.com said that Morris was in advanced negotiations with the Sounders, who have offered him the richest-ever homegrown player contract ever, Sports Illustrated reported that Morris may explore options overseas, and will travel to train with Bundesliga’s SV Werder Bremen next week.
Morris alternately been held up as a symbol for the next generation of American soccer, the folly of collegiate soccer, and the frustrations MLS teams face in developing young talent for whom they do not hold contract rights.
Due to the NCAA’s rules regarding amateurism, college soccer players cannot sign contracts with their parent clubs. If a player decides to enter MLS after he is done with college, his youth club has first right of refusal to sign him to a contract.
If, however, a young player goes abroad, the parent club gets squat, save for perhaps a portion of the “discovery fee” paid out to clubs that developed a young player.
Morris, who scored two goals in Stanford’s 4-0 dismantling of Clemson in the College Cup final Dec. 13, has been encouraged by national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann to turn pro. Klinsmann has never been shy about expressing his desire for younger players to play overseas, where the overall quality of competition is higher, to further their development. If history holds, Klinsmann is likely encouraging Morris to do the same.
Klinsmann said that he wants Morris to sign somewhere where he will play regularly.
“From our standpoint, it’s very, very important that he chooses an environment where he gets to play,” Klinsmann said last month in a U.S. Soccer statement. “He needs to play in order to be in a good position to be a continuous part of the national team program, and also the Olympic team that will hopefully qualify for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro at the end of March.”
It might be difficult for the striker to see many first-team minutes in his natural position with the Sounders. Seattle’s three designated players, Obafemi Martins, Nelson Valdez and Clint Dempsey—guaranteed a combined $8.8 million in salary last year—are forwards. Whether he would have more success with Werder Bremen is very likely the purpose of his trip to its winter training camp.
Should he turn pro, Morris will also have a personal reason to consider: Michael Morris, the Mercer Island native’s father, is the Sounders’ team physician.
While Morris hasn’t made a decision, his time training in Germany will likely play a big role in whether the Sounders are joined by one of America’s brightest young stars, or be lost to the greater money and glory in Europe.