As Jordan Morris rushed off for his 8:45 p.m. flight out for extended U.S. men’s national team duty, he could be confident about two things that happened Sunday:
▪ First, the second-year forward knows the Seattle Sounders are still a superior club at home – illustrated by their 3-1 victory Sunday over the road-warrior New York Red Bulls in front of a record 45,600 at CenturyLink Field.
▪ And second, he knows he can win just about any medical argument with the Sounders chief medical director, who also happens to be his father – Dr. Michael Morris.
Jordan Morris shook off an ankle injury to tally the game-winning goal – a thing of beauty – in the 66th minute for his first score of the season.
And newcomer Harry Shipp gave Seattle some breathing room with his redirected shot and first career Sounders goal in the 79th minute.
The performance – and the result – was just what coach Brian Schmetzer was looking for after the club went winless in its season-opening road trip at Houston and Montreal.
“Coming back,” Schmetzer said, “has been the signature of this team for a long time.”
There was a lot going on Sunday for this much-anticipated home opener.
Before the game, the team’s MLS Cup championship banner was unveiled to a soldout crowd.
And then Seattle had to worry about the Red Bulls, the MLS Eastern Conference champions a year ago who were on quite a roll, having not lost their past 18 regular-season matches, dating back to July.
New York also had not been defeated in its past eight road matches, an MLS record.
“It was kind of a trap game in the sense of, ‘Are you going to get carried away thinking about last year?’ ” Schmetzer said. “And then the referee blows the whistle, and all of a sudden you have to switch gears.
“But tonight, it was an all-around good performance.”
Morris was in the middle of it from the start.
Deep in the Red Bulls’ end and under pressure, defender Damien Perrinelle tried tapping the ball back to goalkeeper Luis Robles in the penalty box.
Making a break on the ball, Morris read it perfectly.
“I don’t know if he necessarily saw me, and I was just hoping it would be a bad pass,” Morris said. “I tried to read it, and got there in time.”
He got there first – just in time for Robles to wipe him out for a yellow-card foul in the box, leading to Clint Dempsey’s penalty-kick goal in the 28th minute for a 1-0 Sounders lead.
If the Red Bulls were going to stay in it, it almost appeared they had to be perfect – and were early in the second half.
Forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, the league’s leading scorer last season, came up to take a cross from Sal Zizzo.
A split-second faster, Wright-Phillips beat Seattle’s Gustav Svensson – who made his first career Sounders start at center back – to the ball, and headed it off the crossbar for a tying goal in the 57th minute.
Svensson said he actually helped in scoring the Red Bulls’ goal.
“He headed it onto my head, and deflected it off,” Svensson said.
Suddenly, after dominating the action, the Sounders were tied. And Morris was noticeably slowed by an ankle injury he suffered late in the first half on a deep run into the penalty box.
In fact, at halftime, the Sounders’ medical staff, including Morris’ father, talked about holding the forward out.
Morris vetoed that suggestion – with an assist from Schmetzer.
“Jordan and I together have a little more power than his dad,” Schmetzer said with a wry smile.
The plan at halftime was for Morris to test his ankle for the first 10 minutes of the second half, and go from there.
“It felt fine – just a little bit of pain, but nothing too bad,” Morris said.
Thankfully he stayed in the lineup for what will go down as one of the better goals you will ever see.
Jones set it all up by dribbling down the left inline, juking a defender. He then slid a pass to Nico Lodeiro up top.
Lodeiro quickly spotted Morris, and chipped a pass toward the goal. Morris headed it in just inside the right post for a 2-1 Seattle lead.
“Nico,” Morris said, “did not leave me much to do.”
The Sounders are now 6-3 in home openers, and scored three goals for the fourth time in those matches. The last time was 2012 – a 3-1 win over Toronto FC.
“We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves,” Seattle midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “It was a slow start last year, and we don’t want to do that this year – especially at home. We are very pleased with our performance.”