Why Jordan Morris chose Major League Soccer over the Bundesliga
Just one day after Werder Bremen revealed that it had offered a contract to U.S. national team striker Jordan Morris, the club announced Tuesday that the former Stanford University standout wouldn't be signing with them.
"Following intense talks, the player made clear that he currently sees his future in America," club CEO Thomas Eichin told the Bundesliga team's website.
There has been no official word yet from Morris or the Seattle Sounders, the MLS club that owns his rights; a Sounders spokesman told ESPN FC on Tuesday afternoon that there was "nothing new to report."
If Eichin is correct that Morris' future is at home, the news represents an unqualified coup for both Seattle and the domestic league.
"I'm not surprised," said ESPN analyst and former U.S. striker Taylor Twellman, who began his pro career with Germany's 1860 Munich. "I knew he was leaning toward Seattle -- I'd heard that as early as the beginning of December."
The Sounders have made no secret of their desire to land their former academy star, offering him the largest homegrown contract in league history. Last week, MLS commissioner Don Garber said inking him is important to the league, too.
"We very much want to sign Jordan," Garber said. "The Sounders are really focused on it. We're very hopeful of bringing him into the league, and representing this new generation of great American players."
What does Morris' decision not to begin his professional career in one of Europe's elite circuits mean for the player's development? There are pros and cons on both sides. In the end, though, Seattle is the logical choice.
While the Bundesliga is far ahead of MLS in terms of quality, the money Werder Bremen offered to Morris wasn't significantly more than the deal on the table from the Sounders, according to multiple sources.
There's also no guarantee that the club will even be in Germany's top flight four months from now. The 16th-place Green-Whites are in a relegation dogfight and, if the season ended today, its survival would hinge on a two-leg playoff with second-tier Nurnberg. Is playing in the 2. Bundesliga better than being in Seattle? (That's assuming Morris would play at all if on the roster there.)
"I don't think it would've been great to go to Werder Bremen and sit on the bench for two years," Twellman said.
In Seattle, Morris will have the opportunity to start right away. He'll play in front of 45,000 fans every home game and he'll have established international forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins as mentors.
"My experiences with [Morris] were always good," Dempsey told ESPN FC on Tuesday. "He did really well with Stanford, winning the championship there. With the national team, any time he's come into camp, or the games he's been involved in, he's someone who has made a difference. He has a bright future and anytime you can bring quality into your team, you're always excited about that, so we'll wait and see."
Most importantly of all, Morris will have a far better chance of staying in the picture with both the U.S. U-23s and the senior national team ahead of Olympic qualifying in March and June's Copa America Centenario.
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Morris' displays with the national team have validated Jurgen Klinsmann's decision to call him up as an amateur. Mostly, though, he's been used off the bench, starting just one of his seven appearances. He'll take on a bigger role if he performs well with his hometown club in the coming months and years.
Moreover, sometime between now and the 2018 World Cup, he'll probably be counted on replace the soon-to-be 33-year-old Dempsey as a U.S. starter.
"If in the next two years Jordan Morris plays a ton of games and he's with the national team, then nobody's going to look at this as a bad move," Twellman said. "Part of that development will be going in with Jurgen Klinsmann and the national team consistently, and being a huge part of that World Cup team going to Russia. If he plays regularly for the Sounders, my money is on that kid developing just fine."
Apparently, Morris likes that bet, too.
ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle contributed reporting from Carson, California.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.