Jordan Morris 'excited' to be part of Bruce Arena's U.S. national team
Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris said he's excited to get to work with new U.S. manager Bruce Arena, while adding he'll play wherever the team needs if that helps him get on the field.
Morris, 22, is fresh off his first season in Major League Soccer in which he helped the Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December, beating Toronto FC on penalties.
Now the former standout at Stanford, who got his first chance with the team while still in college, is training with the U.S. in Carson, California, in their January camp and adjusting to life under a new coach after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired at the end of November.
Morris told ESPN FC's Taylor Twellman: "I can't really talk about [the team] without thanking Jurgen, because he brought me in, and I think a lot of coaches wouldn't have done that in the situation, taken a chance on this college kid that he saw in a scrimmage.
"Obviously, he was super influential in my career, but I've talked to people about Bruce, and obviously was a soccer fan when I was younger -- followed him when he was the national team coach. He was very successful then, and then with the Galaxy, honestly, I'm just excited to work with him."
Despite giving Morris his early chance, Klinsmann left him off the Copa America Centenario roster in the summer of 2016, as the German favored more experienced players for the 100th anniversary edition of the competition.
That move left Morris disappointed, but hungry.
"Obviously I know there's some great players in front of me," Morris said. "And there's a lot of work that I have to continue to do. But definitely getting left off that was tough and kind of added some fuel to my fire there.
"I just want to continue to prove that I belong here, and, like I said, try to get some more minutes on the field. So hopefully this camp can be a good place [for that]."
The Sounders used Morris as a central striker and in wide positions during the course of the season, one in which the first-year player scored 12 goals and was named the league's Rookie of the Year. Given the choice, Morris said he knows where he prefers to play, but that he's also willing to line up wherever the team wants him.
"My preferred position is playing forward, playing up front," Morris said. "I feel that that's what I'm best at, but I played out wide in the playoffs a little bit. If that's what can get me on the field or get me more minutes, I would, of course, be happy to play there."
The U.S. team have two upcoming friendlies scheduled at the end of training camp -- against Serbia in San Diego on Jan. 29, and Jamaica in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Feb. 3. But the important games come in March, when the team resumes World Cup qualifying with matches against Honduras and Panama on March 24th and 28th, respectively.
A pair of losses against Mexico and Costa Rica to start the CONCACAF Hexagonal phase of qualifying in November of 2016 was the final straw for Klinsmann, and Morris spoke about the new message that Arena is trying to instill in the team now that he's in charge.
"Obviously, people know that [the U.S.] had some tough results in the first games of qualifying," Morris said. "So Bruce has come in and said he wants to get a real team mentality back. He felt that when he was part of group, that was the strong part of the team is that they were a team, and worked hard and fought for each other and everything like that.
"So I think just kind of really forcing that idea into the players and establishing an identity."
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