Seattle Sounders FC

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Morris “completely respects” Klinsmann’s keeping him off USMNT roster

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Seattle Sounders striker and USMNT star-in-waiting Jordan Morris struck a mature note when asked about his exclusion from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 23-man roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

Some will have considered the youngster a lock for the roster, with Morris already boasting rarefied air as a college player to become something close to a national team regular while still in school.

[ MORE: USMNT-Ecuador preview | Klinsmann eyes semis ]

But Klinsmann opted for in-form San Jose striker Chris Wondolowski, and it has become old hat for MLS players to gripe when their name is not called by the German boss (See: Benny Feilhaber, Brad Evans and Landon Donovan).

Don’t count Morris in that group. Of course the youngster doesn’t have the tenure to rally against the man who gave him his shot in the first place, but that hasn’t stopped others from acting entitled to a roster spot.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“[Klinsmann] told me not take it too hard and that there was a lot of competition,” Morris said. “I completely respect his decision. There were a lot of good forwards playing and they’re all playing really well. I wish those guys all the best. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch this summer.”

Morris can still end up on the roster through injury, and it’s easy to see him as the next name up should an attack-minded player take a knock. Stefan Frei told us last week that Morris is remarkably professional, and this is no exception.

The youngster did admit increased motivation from his omission, stating that “it gives you fuel to your fire to try and get back in the mix a little bit”. We have a feeling he won’t be out of that mix for long.

Seattle’s Frei talks massive ‘tifo’ project, Sounders, Jordan Morris

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From staring out the windows of Swiss trains to the color of his goalkeeper shirts, art has never been far from Stefan Frei’s mind.

The 30-year-old backstop spent some time talking with ProSoccerTalk this week as Seattle prepares for a match with Colorado and Frei oversees the production of a massive ‘tifo’ project for a future Cascadia Cup game.

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We spoke with Frei about plenty of on-the-field topics, from the Sounders’ early season form to his early days in Toronto and the character of USMNT prospect Jordan Morris, but the project is one of those rare corporate projects that fits the bill as interesting.

Frei has designed a 200-foot long, 75-foot high canvas that will be painted and constructed by fans across Seattle, a project with Delta called “The Fabric of Sounders FC“. That started with middle school artists who helped him put the “first splashes of paint” on the project this week.

SEATTLE, WA – MAY 18: Seattle Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei kicks off “The Fabric of Sounders FC” design project uniting community, art, and sport with Seattle Sounders FC and Delta Air Lines on May 18, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)

And it’s giving Frei insight and appreciation for what Seattle supporters do on their own time to make match day special, as he lauded the inspiration of the Emerald City Supporters.

“I did all the designing it, but how do you translate the design that I did digitally onto canvas? You can probably speak to our supporters because you need a lot of hours, sweat and tears,” Frei said. “In stages throughout the year we’ll go out into the community, take snippets of the design and allow people to paint it along my guidelines.”

All of that will culminate with a flight of fans heading down to Portland from Seattle and doing some of the installation on the plane.

Frei’s love for art is innate, and he didn’t find it in a gallery (at least at first). As a young player taking trains to school and practice, the attraction was outdoors, but not nature.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview | MLS Rivalry Week Preview ]

“What you see when you’re peering out of the train a lot in Europe is graffiti,” he said. “For some reason, it caught my eye. Especially old school graffiti that used very flashy colors, bright, in your face neons. I was fascinated by it, and I started doodling. In sketch books and things, not on walls.”

The ‘keeper wanted to study art at California, but couldn’t because of his soccer schedule. An architecture major had the same obstacles. So he’s relishing the opportunity now, launched by his designing of a tee-shirt to go with Seattle’s 2016 kit launch.

In an odd twist of fate, Frei would love to wear the Sounders’ rave green in his goalkeeper kit. He cannot for obvious reasons, and also rarely gets to choose what he wears (he says he loves this year’s “highlighter yellowish-green type deal”).

That’s fine, though, because he has plenty of on-field concerns. The Sounders’ season has suffered fits and starts as the club adjusts after the departures of Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle this offseason, with more responsibility than expected heaped onto new boy Morris.

“The biggest thing I want you to take away from this is he’s got the right head on his shoulders. Before I was pro, I played with tremendous talents but unfortunately they stayed talents because they thought they had it all and wouldn’t need to work any more. And they lost it all and people will never hear from them again.”

“Jordan was raised by a really good family and he knows what he needs to do. Some people might question why he came to MLS and he gave it some serious thought. It wasn’t some immature decision and ultimately he came to the conclusion that this is what he wanted to do. The best thing I see from him is day-in day-out he knows he’s got a lot more to do. He shows up for training.

“He works his butt off.”

Morris had a slow start to the season goal-wise but netted in four-straight before seeing the streak snapped in a 2-0 Sunday loss to Dallas. The adjustment to the professional level was supposed to be easier, and come over time, but Martins left for China.

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“It doesn’t help when your top striker leaves a couple of days before your season starts.”

That’s put the onus on Frei and his veteran leaders to keep stability around the training ground. He uses the term “even keeled” several times in describing the room, saying Seattle doesn’t get too high off a win streak or “devastated” by losing skids.

(Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Delta Air Lines)

And Frei makes a good point when it comes to consistency. From his perspective, losing even a handful of players is a mild offseason given what he went through as a youngster in Toronto. Drafted 13th overall in 2009, he won the starting job almost immediately. He also saw a lot of players in front of him before leaving for Seattle in December 2013.

“For me to have coaches to put me in as raw as I was huge,” Frei said. “I faced a lot of shots. Unfortunately we went through tough times. Would I take any of that back? No. It’s made me appreciate what I have now a lot more. When we have an offseason with Sounders where we get rid of three, four, five players, people are like, ‘Wow, you’re really cleaning house’. Sea

There’s been a bit of the unlucky in Seattle’s slow start, too. In addition to Martins’ untimely departure, the Sounders have conceded five penalty kicks in 10 games.

“We can’t really control those things, what we can control is keep your head down and work your butt off,” Frei said. “Everybody does that here. That’s why I enjoy going to work here every day. It makes for a really good work environment.”

Herzog rejects overseas comments, says USMNT’s Morris has “great options”

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Andreas Herzog says his translated comments advocating more U.S. players be shepherded overseas were misinterpreted, and that Jordan Morris has “two great options” in the Bundesliga and MLS.

I’ll lay out why I think the Bundesliga is a superior choice in a minute, but let’s circle back to that.

[ MLS: Schedule set for 2016; We pick five games to circle ]

First off, solid reporting by Kyle McCarthy of Fox Sports, who spoke to Herzog and got the coach to expand on his Kicker-reported thoughts, you know, in English.

He said that MLS is much improved, and that playing for Sigi Schmid could be a fine choice for Morris. And he detailed why Werder Bremen, the home of fellow USMNT striker Aron Johannsson, is interested:

“They were asking me about Jordan 6-7 months ago,” Herzog said. “They were scouting him for the last 6 months or so. Of course I told them a lot of good things. When he plays with the Olympic team or with the men’s national team, you can see he’s a young, powerful striker with a lot of qualities. That’s how it is.”

McCarthy’s interview only reinforces my preference for Morris to choose the Bundesliga. This isn’t a fly-by-night appreciation of Morris. If Werder Bremen signs Morris after his 10 days of training, they’ll have a plan for the man on top of the aforementioned 6-7 months of scouting him.

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My main argument for Morris taking his shot at Germany was that there is no guarantee his star will be higher than it is right now in terms of European attraction. Yes, he could take MLS by storm as a rookie — where there’s no guarantee he’ll play a ton, either — but does that mean he’ll be in any higher demand in a league like the Bundesliga, or by any higher of a club?

Inside MLS fan groups: Seattle Sounders FC

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CenturyLink Field will be overflowing with chanting, jumping and raucous noise tonight when the Seattle Sounders face FC Dallas in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals (10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), with both squads fighting for their playoff lives.

And if one was to question where ideal MLS fandom exists right now, many would say Seattle.

The Emerald City Supporters are the core of Seattle’s staunch fans, and in the above video, Sounders supporters talk about the growth of their beloved club and how thousands of city dwellers have invested themselves into ultimate soccer fandom.

Seattle Sounders ink Nigerian defender Onyekachi Apam

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Fresh off a U.S. Open Cup title victory over the Philadelphia Union, Seattle Sounders FC has made a move to add depth their back line, as the club revealed on Friday that Nigeria defender Onyekachi Apam finalized a move to MLS.

The 27-year-old played for French club Nice from 2006-2010, and then transferred to Stade Rennes, where he hasn’t found the most consistent form lately and was forced to cope with injuries. So, he’s actually been a part the team’s second team more recently, according to Goal.com.

“Onyekachi brings vast experience from French Lique 1 and the Nigerian National Team,” Chris Henderson, the Sounders sporting director, said in a press release. “He is a versatile defender who can play central or wide and has the ability to start our attack from the back as well.”

On the international side, he taken the pitch 14 times for the Nigeria since 2007, and supposedly, fellow countryman and Sounders forward Obafemi Martins highly recommended the services of the former Ligue 1 man.