Jordan Morris, a.k.a. the newest chase rabbit in American soccer’s perpetual “next big thing” pursuit, has already established himself as a unique figure in the domestic game. He was a college kid who stamped a mark on the national team; Morris had another collegiate season at Stanford in him when he debuted (and scored!) at full international level against Mexico last spring in Texas.
Some of the booming voices in American soccer have pointed out Morris’ incredible position of leverage in the shark tank of current, professional negotiations. Here is what ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman just told Extra Time Radio:
“Jurgen Klinsmann is right in one sense on this: Jordan Morris, since the inception of Major League Soccer, is the only player to come out of college, to negotiate a contract and have the leverage of (being) a full national team player. Even Landon Donovan did not have that.”
So Morris already holds some unusual, if not unique positions, in domestic soccer. The young man is already busting up molds and models.
And in this flare-up of Jordan Morris frenzy, I see one more fascinating angle, one less discussed so far as he weighs his options, primarily between Germany’s Werder Bremen and the Seattle Sounders:
Klinsmann wants players to test themselves overseas, as we know. Of course, it’s not the “overseas” part, per se, that Klinsmann covets for America’s best and brightest; it’s the environment. Specifically, it’s the cultural immersion and day-to-day pressure that squeezes the very best from athletes. It’s Klinsmann’s beloved “bakery theory.”
It goes like this: When players in Germany or elsewhere in Europe lose on the weekend, they can barely go enjoy a cup of strong European coffee or stop at the local bakery for scones or brotchen or whatever because everyone in town is pissed off at them. Fold in the extraordinary layers of competition for playing time and that creates a zippy environment, one that ultimately pounds out the best soccer players, or so the theory goes.
But what if the pressure is actually greater elsewhere? What if the bigger, badder burden of expectation lies in – Egad! Say it ain’t so! – Major League Soccer?
We may have reached that previously unreached point with Morris. We may have ventured into this very odd place where, in this particular case, Morris will have feel more pressure in MLS as opposed to performing overseas. Klinsmann may be loath to admit as much, but you can make a decent case that the balance tips that way here. Not across the board, of course, but in this case.