After five years in MLS, Jordan Morris is heading abroad.
The Seattle Sounders and U.S. men's national team forward will be going on loan to Swansea City for the remainder of the second-tier English Championship season, with an option to make it a permanent move, the Swans announced Friday.
Morris was in U.S. January camp until Wednesday, when he was excused to complete his loan, which will mark his first foray into the European club scene. He worked out with Werder Bremen and had the opportunity to sign for the Bundesliga club in 2016 but opted to stick with his hometown Sounders. He's flourished in Seattle, reaching the MLS Cup final in four of his five professional seasons (and winning two of them). The only season Seattle did not reach the final in that time coincided with him missing the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL.
Morris, 26, has been capped 39 times by the USMNT, with 10 goals and eight assists (including a Concacaf Gold Cup-winning goal in 2017). For Seattle, Morris has 35 goals and 20 assists in 105 regular-season appearances, with another six goals and three assists in 16 playoff games.
“When our club signed Jordan as a Homegrown Player prior to the 2016 season, we said at that time he was a unique individual with a special relationship with Sounders FC. That sentiment is as true today as it was then, and we have worked directly with Jordan and his family on completing this loan agreement as he looks to take a seminal step in his career,” Sounders GM and president of soccer Garth Lagerwey said in a statement. “As one of the finest soccer players Western Washington has produced and an even better ambassador for our community, Jordan means a great deal to our fans, our club and the Puget Sound region. We know he will represent us well as he begins his journey in English football, and we wish him luck as he prepares to aid Swansea in its push for Premier League qualification.
"At the end of the day, this move is all about Jordan and what he wants from his career. Our club and city are behind him as he embarks on the next phase of his journey, and should he return to Seattle at the end of this loan, we know he will be stronger for the experience.”
He joins a Swansea team chasing promotion back to the Premier League. He might not be the only MLS and U.S. star heading to the club, with Swansea reportedly in talks with D.C. United's Paul Arriola over a similar arrangement. D.C. and Swansea share an owner in Jason Levien.
With the uncertainty over the start of the MLS season amid a contentious back-and-forth between the league and its players association, it's possible other players seek short-term moves abroad, to securing formal playing and training time while labor issues get ironed out.
Swansea City is currently second in the Championship, which would be good enough to secure automatic promotion. It trails first-place Norwich City–which just recalled U.S. forward Sebastian Soto from his loan to Telstar in the Dutch second division–by seven points, but has a game in hand. The four clubs trailing the Swans and occupying the promotion playoff places are all within four points, with the number of games played varying between them.
Swansea faces Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup's fourth round this Saturday before a vital league game against third-place Brentford, which trails Swansea by two points and has a game in hand, on Jan. 27. Morris won't be available to play vs. Nottingham Forest.
“I’m very proud of the player and professional that Jordan has become. He’s been a large part of this club’s success and has more than earned this opportunity to ply his trade abroad,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “This particular move gives him a chance to showcase his skillset and opens a number options for his future. On top of that, I am excited to watch him play for Swansea.”