Jordan Morris saga illustrates split between MLS and what’s best for USMNT

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The continued discussions over the future of Jordan Morris, the young American striker who has already recorded seven senior caps for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) before turning pro, have dominated the recent headlines around US soccer. Morris, who is from Seattle, has been reportedly been offered the most lucrative contracts for a youngster in the twenty one year history of Major League Soccer. Morris spent one season with the Sounders youth academy and played for the club’s U-23 fourth division side two years ago.

After a sterling college career at Stanford University, Morris is now turning pro. Seattle own his MLS rights and it seemed inevitable he would sign the long-term deal on offer from the US-based league. Morris’ father is the team doctor for the Seattle Sounders and recent years have seen a movement of American players back to MLS from Europe.

When Major League Soccer adopted the “Designated Player Rule” in 2007, it was generally assumed the rule should not be used to sign American players. At the time, US Men’s National Team pool players were regularly leaving MLS for second and third tier European leagues that offered higher pay. But the league also had developed a reputation for not letting higher-profile American players leave without meeting what were unrealistic asking prices.

At the time of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, all but four US Men’s National Team players plied their trade outside MLS and the four that were in MLS would all play abroad for some period of time within the next few years. But now, thanks to MLS’ new commitment to making USMNT players designated players or core players, many current members of the men’s national team have never played club soccer abroad.

With this in mind, Morris’ decision to go on trial with Werder Bremen of the Bundesliga sent shockwaves through the US soccer community and reignited a debate about whether American players should sign in MLS to guarantee games or try and compete in top European leagues for playing time. The discussion has torn apart the US soccer community in recent days. But Morris is not an ordinary young American player. He’s the best attacking prospect the national team has had in recent years.

Morris may have a decision to make. His trial was recently extended by Werder Bremen and the club’s Manager Viktor Skripnik has clearly been impressed by Morris.

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