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Seattle's Morris makes return to soccer pitch in Tucson

Seattle midfielder and hope for U.S. national team playing again after a year absence

Jordan Morris’s first game in a Seattle Sounders uniform was at Kino North Stadium. Back during preseason on Feb. 8, 2016, Morris got a run out as Seattle played in a 2 – 1 loss in a friendly against Mexican club Atletico Celaya. The former Stanford star didn’t have much of a match, the Seattle Times noted that he was “isolated” for most of the game, but fans already had high hopes for him. Those hopes included the World Cup, as he was already sought after by the U.S. national team.

Those hopes were dashed when an ankle injury in a Champions League match in El Salvador last February took him out of competition for both Seattle and the U.S. national team for a year. The last few matches of World Cup qualifying were played without him, and the U.S. famously failed to get into last year’s World Cup.

Morris is back on the field where his Seattle career started. He played 60 minutes on Saturday against Houston. He didn’t light things up, but a few charges up the right side caused problems for his former national teammate DaMarcus Beasley. Morris is expected to be on the field again on Wednesday night as Seattle takes on its fiercest rival, Portland Timbers FC.

“These are my first games back in a year. It’s a long road and I don’t want to risk anything,” said Morris. “I’m trying to get out there and make my fitness better and get in better with the team.”

The team is a bit different than the one he played on last February. His fellow midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is out and he never before had a chance to play with striker Raúl Ruidíaz, who joined the team last summer.

“We lost some good players, but it’s going to be a good team,” he noted.

Morris acknowledged that, like every team here for preseason, these matches are primarily about getting minutes to help players with fitness. Some teams throw in tryouts and tactical tinkering, but mostly it is about fitness. However, Wednesday night’s match is against Portland, a team that the Sounders have a rivalry with going back since the 1970s. 

Fans show up for this game en masse, including some flying in from Portland and Seattle. Players like Morris know that it is about “getting minutes,” but the crowd is part of the preparation too.

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“It’s exciting. It’s more of a fun atmosphere,” he said. “It feels like more of a regular season game and that’s beneficial.”

The reserve squads for Sporting Kansas City and Houston Dynamo will be facing off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday followed by Seattle Sounders FC and Portland Timbers FC at 7 p.m. Both matches will be at Kino North Stadium.

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Josh Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

Jordan Morris continues to challenge Portland's Jeff Attinella after a shot in the Portland-Seattle match at Kino on Feb. 8, 2018.