Stanford star Morris gets his chance with US national team

Jun 9, 2015, 8:30 AM
FILE - In this April 15, 2015, file photo, United States forward Jordan Morris (8) heads the ball at goal over Mexico's Carlos Salcedo (13) during the first half of an international friendly soccer match in San Antonio. Morris has Type 1 diabetes, so getting the symbol for his disease inked on his right forearm serves dual purposes: as medical identification if needed and also as a reminder to the Stanford star what he has endured to become a contributor for the U.S. men's national team at age 20. Not that he intended to ever do it. (AP Photo/Darren Abate, File)

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — The tattoo was his mother’s idea about five years ago.

Jordan Morris has Type 1 diabetes, so getting the symbol for his disease inked on his right forearm serves dual purposes: as medical identification and a reminder to the Stanford star of what he has endured to become a contributor for the U.S. men’s national team at age 20.

“You’re supposed to wear a bracelet and I never did. I don’t know why, it was just kind of annoying to me to wear that,” he said. “It was actually my mom’s idea. She said it to me five or so years ago, ‘You should get a tattoo.’ I was like, ‘No, no, I never want to do that.’ Then as I got older I thought that’d be pretty cool, actually, just so people know I have diabetes, but then now it could be a way to inspire some young diabetics, too, which I think is awesome. I think it serves both those purposes.”

Morris has had a whirlwind spring, from traveling the world with the national team and U.S. Under-23 squad, to returning to the Bay Area to finish his sophomore course work at Stanford.

A speedy forward who can beat a defender 1-on-1 to create chances on the attack, he became the first college player to score for the national team in at least 20 years when he got a goal against Mexico two months ago in his first start.

He is on the roster for Wednesday’s exhibition against Germany in Cologne, a rematch of Mannschaft’s 1-0 win in the group stage of last year’s World Cup when the Germans won the title.

Morris arrived from France, where he appeared in all four matches with three starts and scored against host France in the 2015 Toulon Tournament for Under-23 teams.

Then, he entered in the 80th minute in the Americans’ 4-3 win against the Netherlands and assisted on Bobby Wood’s game-winning goal in the 90th minute.

In his bag or backpack, Morris is always ready with Tree Top brand fruit gummies or a sports drink if his blood sugar gets low.

“It just kind of depends on the day,” he said of whether he needs the snack.

Morris has played in four games for the U.S. with one start, and he scored the first goal in the 49th minute of a 2-0 victory April 15 against Mexico in San Antonio.

Among other firsts, he became the first active college player to appear for the U.S. team since Ante Razov in 1995.

“It’s pretty unbelievable. It still hasn’t hit me totally. Pretty crazy,” Morris said during a recent sit-down at Stanford. “When I take a step back and look at how the last few months have gone, it’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid.

“I never really thought that maybe this would ever happen, especially this early. It was an unbelievable moment. I think that kind of came out when I saw the ball go in the net, I just had all of these emotions suddenly rush into me, I’m like, ‘This actually just happened.'”

His journey to the national team arrived somewhat by chance. He played in a closed scrimmage against last year’s World Cup team during its training camp at Stanford in May 2014.

“I got a little lucky that they were able to come train here,” he said. “There are so many players trying to make it to that level, sometimes you need a little luck to get there.”

Morris then stuck around and trained a couple of days under coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who already had begun to consider Morris a future option then. The coach doesn’t hesitate to give opportunities to young, inexperienced players. He said before Morris’ start against Mexico, “I want him to enjoy it.”

Morris’ father, Dr. Michael Morris, is the Seattle Sounders’ orthopedist. That could be where Morris, from Mercer Island, Washington, winds up after his junior college season this fall.

Klinsmann had already heard plenty about Morris from Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.

“We have this special kid coming through the academy, but his dad is a doctor and he wants to go to college,” Klinsmann recalled to reporters last fall in Prague of those conversations. “So we watched him obviously. And when we saw him at the U-23 camp with Tab (Ramos) in early April, I saw him.

“Then during World Cup preparation at Stanford we played against him and he scored against us, so we could evaluate the talent. So the next step is to see where his head is. I said, ‘I’m not scared to give him an expressway if it’s all doable.'”

Klinsmann spoke with Morris, his father and Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn along the way given his unique position as a college student.

From fellow forwards Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski, to the rest of the Americans, Morris’ teammates have welcomed him.

“It’s great to play with these guys because they’re my role models and people I want to model my game after,” he said. “It’s amazing to play with them and learn from them.”

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Stanford star Morris gets his chance with US national team