The American soccer community is no stranger to the hype train, and the Jordan Morris locomotive pulled into the station on Thursday.
Morris's signing with the Seattle Sounders is undoubtedly a great get for the team and league, with the 21-year-old homegrown star and Stanford NCAA champion clearly a player on the rise. His choosing Seattle over Werder Bremen certainly appears to show his strong connection to the club–for which he's had a front row seat for years with his father the team's chief medic–and preference to play in MLS, and it ensures the league has one of the U.S. men's national team's burgeoning players on home soil.
Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, general manager Garth Lagerwey, manager Sigi Schmid and sporting director Chris Henderson spoke beautifully about Morris at his introductory press conference, what his signing means to the club and for the league and what he can do as a player, saying all the right things and doing so from a place of passion and genuine feeling.
But of course, that wasn't enough.
After the Sounders urged caution and tempered expectations (Lagerwey even harped back to his days in D.C., saying "I was in D.C. when they announced Freddy Adu, and I refuse to make Jordan a symbol or a pawn.") the club went on to tweet a side-by-side photo comparing five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi and Morris each raising scarves above their heads from the top of Seattle's Space Needle.
Now, while clearly done in good fun and tongue in cheek, it doesn't do anything to limit the expectations bestowed upon Morris before he's played his first minute as a professional. It also doesn't help that in MLS's official email release about the signing, it includes the tagline: "The next great American star arrives."
A pair of rival teams latched onto the Sounders' move, poking fun and bringing some levity to the situation:
Perhaps the strongest voice of reason, though, came from another icon Morris has been compared to, Landon Donovan, who knows a thing or two about climbing the career ladder under scrutiny:
So MLS and Seattle, yes, celebrate the signing. It's a big one and an important one, and perhaps Morris will continue the path he is currently on and go on to greatness. But don't throw Morris in an unwinnable situation when the spotlight on him is already going to be bright enough. We've already seen how that movie ends.