After speculation that Jordan Morris might head to Europe in the January transfer window, it was announced that he is set to join Swansea. The Welsh club are promotion hopefuls having been relegated to the Championship following the 2017-2018 Premier League season. Of course, the reaction from USMNT fans has been their unified full backing of the move with everyone excited to tune into ESPN+ as soon as Morris steps onto the pitch in Wales.
That can’t be right. This is Jordan Morris we’re talking about. He has a dog and plays in MLS and didn’t go to Europe when he was 16 because of a great-grand uncle being from Fürstentum Rügen. Also, it’s Swansea in Wales, you can walk across Wales in a straight line, and not Bayern Munich or Juventus or Barcelona where the rest of the good American players are all going now that the USA is good at men’s soccer now maybe. As a result of these two factors, the response seems to be goo-wait? really? So is this good or meh or just a case of dyfal donc a dyr y garreg?
This seems like a head scratching move. Obviously, Morris can make a name for himself by proving that the college-to USMNT-to dog owner-to MLS-to European second division is viable. Gratuitous invectives aside, the loan seems slightly underwhelming with some “ifs” attached to it that will end up marking it as a success or failure. Specifically, it is a big opportunity for Morris, if some things that are beyond his control like Swansea being promoted, happen. If that does happen and if Morris stays on with the club, then this undoubtedly is a good move and opens the door for him to play in one of the best leagues in the world.
With other moves rumored, like perhaps joining a squad in the Bundesliga or Serie A, critics could point to it as another career choice that won’t give Morris the chance to play to his full potential. There’s no doubt that the top flight in Germany or Italy would present a bigger challenge in terms of the talent of players he would be facing, expectations on Morris, and his ability to adjust to a new situation than moving to Swansea. Thus, while picking Swansea might offer some benefits, it also looks like the safest option for Morris at this point.
On the other hand, the move is good and might be better than those other options. Morris should have ample opportunity to play for the Swans. According to Wales Online, manager “Steve Cooper has been determined to bolster his forward options in the January transfer window having lost Viktor Gyokeres, Morgan Gibbs-White and Kasey Palmer since the turn of the year.” The American is coming off of his best season in MLS, is in his prime, and the Championship will test his skills more than the American domestic competition will.
A promotion battle will also be good experience for Morris. The MLS playoffs and Gold Cup is one thing, but the constant pressure of a months long campaign with high stakes will be valuable preparation for the forward headed into World Cup qualification and the eventual tournament itself. Much has been made of the number of Americans appearing on Champions League rosters and how high expectations are in that tournament. Morris is not on the level of a starter on a team expecting to make a run in the most competitive tournament in the world, but this is an opportunity to show what he can do in a similar situation.
Dyfal donc a dyr y garreg
Morris’ mission in Wales may be more of a step forward than a giant leap. No, Swansea is not a top club in Europe, but the benefits are undeniable and if it pays off could be huge for Morris. At least it shows that he is willing to bet on himself and step forward as a player that can lead a team into a higher level where he can then take on that challenge next season. For now, all we can do is watch and see what the future brings.