Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Jordan Morris is making a mistake by coming home to MLS

Jordan Morris had an opportunity. An opportunity to join one of the top leagues in the world. He may not have played right away, but he would have been receiving training from the quality of coaches you just cannot find in the United States. After his trial with Werder Bremen proved successful enough for the club to offer him a contact, he announced he is leaving Germany and coming home to sign the richest homegrown contract in MLS history.

I can understand why he's doing it. Seattle is comfortable. It's familiar. He was born there. He trained in the Sounders' academy system. But he is missing a big chance to improve both his skills and the prospects of the US National Team.

Jurgen Klinsmann is right to want his best players to be playing in Europe. It offers better competition and better training than MLS can offer at the time being. It offers the chance to play, and shine, in the Champions League like Fabian Johnson. It offers the ability to train and learn from the best in the world at Bayern Munich like Julian Green. It offers the experience of the Premier League, the most popular and exposed league in the world, like Tim Howard, DeAndre Yedlin, Geoff Cameron, brad Guzan, and plenty others in the past. Instead of getting high class training and high class competition, Jordan Morris is coming home to MLS, a league that struggles to keep up with the talent of second divisions in Europe.

Just look at the guys who have been good in Europe who have come home to MLS. The best example is Michael Bradley. He was a key part of Borussia Monchengladbach's squad in the Bundesliga when he played there. He was also a force in the midfield of the US National team in the 2010 World Cup. He went from Gladbach to Italy, where he played for Chiev0 and AS Roma and played well the whole time. While he was in Europe, he developed a reputation as being one of the smartest players that the USA had ever developed.

Then he came back to play for Toronto in MLS. He was slower, his passing was less accurate and direct, and he was the number one punching bag amongst fans in the 2014 World Cup.

Jordan Morris making a mistake to pass up the chance to play in the Bundesliga and develop in a similar pattern to Bradley, or Green, or any American in Europe. The higher levels of training will make him a better player and make the USMNT a better team. He is sacrificing this long term success for the short term comfort of home.

He may not have been on the first team in Bremen right away, but it's not like he even has guaranteed playing time in Seattle. Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins aren't simply going to roll over and let the kid step into their roles. If he isn't going to see the field anyway, why not at least be practicing with better coaching and better talent around him?

I can only hope that the decision to stay in Seattle is a temporary one. He can play there for a year or two before exploring his options in Europe again. If he stars, Werder Bremen's door will still be open to him, for sure. But if he really stands out, if he continues his track record of highlighting himself like he did at Stanford, maybe some of the larger clubs will come calling as well. I just wish he wouldn't wait that long.

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