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Jordan Morris rejects Sounders contract offer, will stay at Stanford

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Jordan Morris isn't turning professional quite yet. Most expected the 20-year-old to leave Stanford this winter, but Morris has rejected a contract offer from the Seattle Sounders and in a statement, he confirmed that he will stay at the university.

After much thought and discussion with my family and coaches, I have decided to continue my education at Stanford and will return to The Farm for my junior year. My teammates, coaches, professors and peers make Stanford a special place. Here I am provided the unique opportunity to both play the game I love and learn at one of the world’s great universities.

Playing professionally is a dream of mine and I feel that Stanford will prepare me extremely well to realize that goal, but also for life after soccer. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to represent this university both on and off the field and look forward to working with my teammates to make our 2015 season a success.

Morris made history in September when he became the first college player in 15 called up to the United States national team. He was called up again in November, when he made his international debut against Ireland and with a cap under his belt, as well as the urging of Jurgen Klinsmann, few believed he would stay at Stanford for long. Yet here he is.

Morris was a part of the Sounders' academy and the club could sign him to a homegrown contract. They reportedly tried to do so, but Morris rejected it. It is unclear whether it was a matter of the Sounders not offering enough money, his not being sure if he wants to sign with MLS or if he just wants to return to Stanford.

While most of the talk around Morris was about whether he would sign with the Sounders or return to school, there had to have been some interest from European clubs. Exactly how good those clubs were, what kind of money they would offer and how interested they are is not clear, there had to be some options so it wasn't just a Stanford vs. Sounders decision. That it took until January for Morris to make his decision, nearly a month after the Stanford season ended, probably hints at the options he had and the tough decision he had to make.

That one of the country's more prominent prospects is sticking with college bucks the trend over the last decade to get away from college development. MLS clubs have launched academies -- and Morris is part of one --, the U.S. has grown the development academies and the national teams have expanded their scope, all in an effort to give players more year-round training and opportunities, but NCAA rules keep colleges from doing the same. Fewer top players are going to college than ever before, yet not only did Morris go to college, he has chosen to stay there even with interest from elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see how this decision affects Morris' standing in the U.S. program. There were suggestions that Klinsmann called him up to the senior team in part to showcase him to European clubs and build his stock. If Morris is committed to staying at Stanford through 2015, that becomes less of a priority. But Morris also figures to be a part of the 2016 Olympic team pool so regardless, he should be involved with the U.S. to some degree.