In the third part of our series investigating MLS players who could be potential fits at Everton, we’re taking a look at Seattle-native Jordan Morris. The 22-year-old already has 16 goals and 4 assists in MLS play, with barely a full season’s worth of experience under his belt.
The striker has United States national team experience under his belt as well, with 15 caps and two international goals to his name. As one part of the deadly Seattle Sounders’ attack, he helped his club to its first MLS Cup in 2016.
As has been well documented, Everton could be without its key striker, Romelu Lukaku, by the start of next season — could Morris be part of a group that replaces him?
Morris has ridiculous pace and an excellent understanding of how to find space in and around the opponent’s backline. Check out this highlight package from the MLS YouTube Channel — notice how many of his goals come with him running onto a ball played in behind.
As you can see, he’s also pretty solid in the air and a confident finisher in front of goal.
Though his top position going forward is likely striker, he is capable of also playing as a wide man in a three-man front line, or even as a wide midfielder in a four-man midfield if absolutely necessary.
Morris is not the most technically gifted striker you’ll see, and is often prone to turnovers. He leads his team in bad controls per match (2.4, per WhoScored.com), and his passing percentage, 78.1%, is worse than most players at his position in Seattle. For example, Clint Dempsey’s is 84.9%, Harry Shipp’s is 86.8%, and Nicolas Lodeiro’s is 81%.
It’s also worth noting that his production has substantially tailed off so far this season, perhaps in relationship to his return to a less prominent role given the return to health of Clint Dempsey. It seems unlikely to expect Morris to be the focal point of a Premier League attack at this age, so there could reasonably be concerns about his ability to be a secondary or tertiary target.
Morris spent three years playing college soccer at Stanford University and is only in his second year as a professional. Though he initially spent time with the national team while in college, in all, he’s still pretty short on experience, meaning there’s reasonable hope he’ll continue to grow as a player.
The Seattle-born striker will turn 23 in October — young by US player standards, but too old to feature regularly with the Everton U-23s as part of his development. If he were to come to Goodison, he’d be in the senior team immediately.
With the club passing on Enner Valencia’s permanent option, there is a spot in the squad for a new flexible attacker/striker/winger who can use his pace off the bench to threaten the opposition late in matches. His lack of experience in Europe may be a deterrent to handing him substantial minutes, but he has faced some reasonably talented opponents playing for the national team.
Likelihood of Move
Morris turned down an offer to play for Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga in January of 2016, so he’s clearly not dying to play overseas. The Sounders currently sit in sixth place in the Western Conference, the last playoff position — and Morris has only two goals in 13 matches (1084 minutes) this season, so he’s not exactly powering them forward.
With Clint Dempsey back in the lineup, new signing Will Bruin knocking in goals off the bench, Harry Shipp in the midst of a resurgence, Aaron Kovar back from injury, and Nicolas Lodeiro...well..being Nicolas Lodeiro, the Sounders may have enough attacking talent to part with Morris if the price is right.
But, Seattle would need significant coaxing to genuinely consider such a move, unless Morris was pushing for a transfer to Europe. Unless that’s the case, Everton’s money may be better spent elsewhere, rather than overpaying for the American.
You can see Jordan Morris and the United States national team in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on June 8 at 7:50 EST against Trinidad & Tobago and on June 11 at 8:30 EST against Mexico. Both matches are on FS1. Morris returns to the Sounders to face NYCFC on Saturday, June 17 at 1:00 on ESPN.