Jordan Morris Goal Puts Seattle into MLS Cup Final
By Alex Baker
LOS ANGELES – Jordan Morris continued his standout rookie season in Major League Soccer on Sunday by netting the goal that effectively put the Seattle Sounders through to their first MLS Cup Final.
Seattle came into the match against Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park riding high on the back of a 2-1 win in the home leg earlier this month. That meant that in addition to preventing Seattle from scoring, Colorado needed a goal to get back into the tie.
They looked the most likely team to score one early on. Jermaine Jones coming close on a couple of occasions in the first half and Shkelzen Gashi misfired an opportunity in the box.
Seattle were kept in check for the first 45 minutes until Morris struck some 11 minutes into the second half.
Nelson Valdez laid the ball off for the 22-year-old on the edge of the box and Morris barraged into charging Colorado keeper Zac MacMath. Although he former Stanford star hurt himself in the process, he succeeded in chipping the keeper and scoring the away goal that would ultimately see Seattle crowned Western Conference Champions for the first time in the club’s eight-year tenure in MLS.
Morris hobbled to the sidelines to receive treatment and managed to finish the match despite visibly limping at times. The former Seattle youth player’s goal left Colorado in need of scoring twice to force the match into extra time. However, the home side couldn’t find a breakthrough and saw their campaign to win a first MLS Cup since 2010 brought to an end.
It was far from a great performance by Seattle who owe a huge debt to the defensive rigidity of their backline. But Morris proved he was a player for the big occasion, playing through a virus and coming up with a vital goal when his team needed him the most.
The first-year player led the Sounders in goals during the regular season and has managed two vital goals in the postseason so far. In the absence of Clint Dempsey, who’s been sidelined by health problems, Morris has shouldered the burden of being the attacking talisman for one of the top franchises in MLS.
He’s also gone some way toward vindicating his decision to remain in Seattle, despite being offered an opportunity to play for Werder Bremen in the German Bundesliga.
The result was also a huge turnaround for Seattle who in addition to losing Dempsey, parted company with long-term coach Sigi Schmid earlier this year and enjoyed a torrid start to the season. Now the Western Conference champs have booked their place in MLS Cup Final against the winner of Tuesday’s Eastern Conference Final between Montreal Impact and Toronto FC.
The team has flourished under Brian Schmetzer, who was appointed as interim manager after Schmid was fired but has since been given the job full-time. Schmetzer has a longstanding history with the club, having played for Seattle in the old NASL and managed the team for two years when it was in the second tier of American soccer.
Could he be the man to lead Seattle to its first ever MLS Cup? If he can keep his team playing with the same kind of self-belief its been emanating throughout the playoffs, and Jordan Morris can maintain the excellent goal-scoring form he’s shown basically all season, anything is possible.
Photos by ISI and Tim Bouwer.