SEATTLE (AP) — Jordan Morris fell awkwardly on an already sore ankle during the first half on Sunday. At halftime the Seattle Sounders team doctor suggested subbing him out and letting him rest with matches for the U.S. national team upcoming.
Morris argued with the doctor — his father Michael — to stay in the match. An argument the younger Morris eventually won.
“We were going to go out there and try for 10 minutes and see and it felt fine. A little bit of pain but nothing too bad,” Morris said. “I always want to be playing.”
Morris drew a penalty to set up Seattle’s opening goal in the first half, scored on a header in the 66th minute to retake the lead, and the Sounders celebrated last year’s MLS Cup title with a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
More than 45,000 turned out for Seattle’s home opener and were rewarded by goals from Clint Dempsey on a penalty kick, Morris’ finish off a beautiful buildup and Harry Shipp’s redirected goal off Joevin Jones’ shot in the 79th minute.
Morris was a constant threat throughout but the knock on his ankle is not good news for U.S. coach Bruce Arena ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. The U.S. already ruled out forward Bobby Wood due to a back injury. Morris was flying to join the national team Sunday night and didn’t think the ankle was going to be a major issue.
“I sprained it in preseason a little bit and it’s the same ankle but I could play 60 minutes on it or whatever so that’s promising,” Morris said. “I’ll get it looked at down there but I think it will be fine.”
Morris drew the penalty that led to Dempsey’s second goal of the season when he was tripped in the box in the 27th minute by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles. Bradley Wright-Phillips pulled New York even in the 57th minute with a header off the inside of the far post, but Morris’ first goal of the year proved to be the game-winner.
Shipp’s goal was his first since joining Seattle in the offseason, a deft redirection of Jones’ shot from distance that curled just inside the post for a late two-goal advantage.
The loss snapped New York’s 18-match unbeaten streak in the regular season dating back to last season. The Red Bulls had not lost an MLS regular season match since July 3, a 2-0 loss against New York City FC. Wright-Phillips’ goal was his first of the season after leading the league in goals last year.
“It was going to end sometime, but in this fashion, I’m not happy with that,” Wright-Phillips said of the streak. “We could have kept going. But the performance today wasn’t good enough.”
Eight years to the day Seattle made its MLS debut with a victory over the Red Bulls, the Sounders celebrated their first MLS Cup title with New York again playing the complementary role.
The championship trophy was paraded through the streets of downtown Seattle before the match, then across the field by retired defender Zach Scott and injured captain Brad Evans just before kickoff. The Sounders unveiled their green championship banner in the rafters of CenturyLink Field as well after spending the first two weeks of the MLS season on the road.
Seattle was staked to the early advantage because of a mistake by New York defender Damien Perrinelle. His poor back-pass to Robles allowed Morris an opportunity to pressure the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper and created the trip that led to the penalty kick.
Jones, who finished with two assists, also got the better of New York defender Sal Zizzo on Morris’ goal. Jones’ dribble split Zizzo’s legs along the end line. Nicolas Lodeiro was open in the penalty area but instead of shooting his one-touch cross found Morris alone at the back post for the header.
“It was a proper start to what I know is going to be a great home season,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said.