USMNT World Cup Hopefuls: Morris Shines Brightly

5 minutes, 58 seconds Read

Following a full weekend of MLS action, we once again take a look at how the domestic crop of players headed to Qatar, or hoping to play themselves into contention for a spot on the plane, fared in league play.

The latest round of games saw Shaq Moore make his entrane to this list (although not onto the field) by way of his recent transfer to MLS, and the continued comeback of Djordje Mihailovic from a lengthy ankle injury.

However, these notable moments were heavily overshadowed by the monstrous performance of Jordan Morris, who singlehandedly willed Seattle to victory to break a string of tepid performances.

As always, if you have any tips for excluded players who are making a strong case to earn a spot in the narrowing window of chances before November, leave a note in the comments or drop us an email at, and we’ll give them a nod.

We’ll jump straight into what was easily the performance of the week by Seattle’s Jordan Morris, who helped the Sounders break their previous three-game losing streak with a 2-1 home win over Colorado Rapids, in what was arguably his best league performance since returning at the end of last season from a lengthy injury pause.

Morris played 89 minutes at his usual left-sided attacking role, before a late substitution gave the home crowd the chance to show their appreciation. During his time on the field, he scored the equalizing goal shortly before halftime, finishing a well-timed run in tight space with a short chip, then drew a penalty in the 69th minute, which is teammate Nicolás Lodeiro converted for the winner.

Apart from his direct contribution to Seattle’s two goals, Morris took seven shots that forced four saves, created three chances for teammates, completed 90% of his 32 passes, and won two of his three dribble attempts.

Cristian Roldan also had a busy night, positioned a bit further back on the right side behind the front three, making 62 total ball contacts, completing 42 of 48 pass attempts, three of four accurate long balls, and drawing a pair of fouls.

Sean Johnson recorded his league-leading 11th clean sheet of the season in New York City FC’s 2-0 home win over Inter Miami, making four saves along the way and putting up particularly strong distribution numbers. The victory keeps NYCFC one point out of first place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand compared to first-place Philly.

On the losing side, DeAndre Yedlin was typically solid, but largely toothless over 90 minutes at right back. He had 64 total touches and completed 83% of his 52 passes while creating a pair of chances, but took no shots, was inaccurate on both attempted crosses, and connected on only one of four long-balls.

USMNT long-shot Brandon Vazquez kept his narrow hopes of a September call-up alive by adding yet another goal to his impressive total in FC Cincinnati’s 1-1 home draw against visiting Nashville SC.

His 52nd-minute equalizer was a header from a corner. All in all, he was active over 90 minutes up top, with 34 total touches, five shots, one forced save, one foul drawn, was caught once offside, and won four of his 12 attempted duels. His 11th goal is good enough for fifth in the league.

Walker Zimmerman had a textbook performance for Nashville in the draw, completing 42 of 47 passes, forcing one save on his lone header attempt following a corner, hitting six of eight long ball attempts, winning his only tackle, making four clearances along with three interceptions, and doing it all cleanly with no fouls committed.

Shaq Moore, who makes his debut on this list after joining Nashville from Spanish team Tenerife, was on the team’s bench but didn’t enter the game, and will be looking to make his debut when they host Vancouver next weekend.

Djordje Mihailovic returned to CF Montreal’s staring lineup in their 2-1 road win over DC United, playing 63 minutes in the center of the midfield. While not directly involved in either of his team’s goals, he was still solid in his hour of play, completing 20 of 24 passes, creating a pair of chances, beating opposing defenders on five of six dribble attempts, and winning nine of 13 duels.

Jesus Ferreira stayed atop the heap of USMNT #9 contenders, scoring the only goal of the game in FC Dallas’ 1-0 road win over Real Salt Lake. Amidst his 24 touches over 90 minutes he took two shots, completed 12 of 17 passes, created a pair of chances, and most importantly helped Dallas break their seven-game winless streak.

The goal was Ferreira’s 12th of the season, enough for third in MLS.

Paul Arriola played 66 minutes on the right for Dallas, and was relative quiet with only 28 touches, no shots or chances created, and only a pair of attempted dribbles.

Kellyn Acosta played the full game for Los Angeles FC at left mid in their 2-0 road win over Sporting Kansas City. He only had a single shot that was blocked on its way towards goal, although he did create a pair of chances and was on-target with three of four crosses.

Unfortunately for LAFC, Acosta picked up his yellow card of the season, meaning he will be suspended in their game against Seattle next weekend.

Gabriel Slonina stayed in the winning column with Chicago’s 3-1 road victory over Vancouver Whitecaps. He made a pair of saves, one of which was particularly impressive to deny Lucas Cavallini in first-half injury time, and was hardly at fault for Vancouver’s lone score early in the second half.

San Jose’s Jeremy Ebobisse did little to help his already dim USMNT prospects in the Earthquakes’ 2-1 road loss at Portland Timbers. In 90 minutes at center forward, he only had 29 total touches, a pair of off-target shots, and created no chances, apart from drawing two fouls to set up free kicks.

Finally, Aaron Long only played the first half of New York Red Bulls’ wild 4-3 road win over Austin FC, although with no reports of injury, he was presumably pulled to reduce workload heading into their midweek US Open Cup semifinal against Orlando.

At the point of his departure at the half, the Red Bulls were up 2-1, and Long had been hardly involved in he proceedings from his position at center back, with only ten ball contacts.

Moving up: Jordan Morris
His performance over the weekend was what fans had come to expect at his best moments before he was heavily derailed with injuries, and will keep him a step ahead of the also-rans when Gregg Berhalter starts to consider his final selections in the coming months.

Moving down: Jeremy Ebobisse
Let’s face it, his microscopically narrow chance was always dependent on him leaping ahead of Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Vazquez in a big way, and that simply isn’t happening. He’s having a good season, to be clear, but it’s not good enough to beat out the competition.


David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

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