Is U.S. Soccer, or anyone from Jurgen Klinsmann's program "meddling" in Jordan Morris' search for his his professional club or trying to push him to Europe, according to MLS commissioner Don Garber. At least that is what he told ESPNFC.
"We very much want to sign Jordan," Garber said. "I know that the Sounders are really focused on it. We're very hopeful of bringing him into the league, and representing this new generation of great American players."
The Seattle Sounders have been very open about their desire to sign Morris and have said publicly that they have offered him a contract that would be the richest Homegrown deal ever. But he is exploring his opportunities in Europe and is currently training with Werder Bremen.
National team assistant coach and U-23 manager Andi Herzog gave an interview in Germany saying that he was trying to get Morris into the Bundesliga, raising concern stateside that U.S. Soccer and Klinsmann program was steering him away from MLS. But Herzog said in a follow up interview that he was misquoted and wasn't trying to influence Morris one way or the other. He was simply asked by Werder Bremen for an evaluation on Morris and provided it.
Is there any concern on MLS' part about Herzog's actions or anyone else's at U.S. Soccer's? Garber says no.
"It's not really 'meddling,'" Garber said. "Our federation has a responsibility to ensure that players that are part of their program understand what their opportunities are."
"None of the federation staff is encouraging players to sign overseas and not with MLS," said Garber. "I think Andi was very clear about that."
This entire situation brings up a very difficult question: what should Klinsmann, his staff and U.S. Soccer's responsibility be?
Obviously, their No. 1 interest is the national team, but how do they act upon it? They could simplify it to the point where all they do is what's best for Morris, which could be getting him to Europe. Another approach could be to steer players to MLS because strengthening the league is best for the national team long-term. But there's also the matter of building reputations and eliminating stigmas abroad, as well as Morris' individual circumstances.
With that all in mind, how much input should Klinsmann, Herzog or anyone else from the federation have in Morris decision? Who the hell knows. There's no book on this. A hands off approach, one that Garber says he believes U.S. Soccer is taking, is the safe one. It might also be the right one. But there's no easy or clear answer here.