Sounders expect sellout crowd for home opener; Morris returns in 2019

VIDEO: Sounders expect sellout crowd for home opener; Morris returns in 2019

SEATTLE — Mercer Island’s very own Jordan Morris missed the entire 2018 season with an ACL injury, but now he’s back and ready to go this year.

"(It’s been) a long 18 months, really, dealing with these injuries. (We) obviously had a game here last week and that was amazing,” said Morris, a Sounders forward. “But for a first real game back, I think it's going to be really special."

Morris, who was the 2016 Major League Soccer rookie of the year, said the road to recovery was very challenging.

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"I think the mental part is what was really tough,” Morris said. “But I think I came out of it on the other side; you know, learning some things (and) having a new appreciation for what I do."

"I think Jordan is the key component to our team,” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan. “He adds value. He adds strength and speed (too). (It’s) something we've lacked the last couple years."

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"You saw he (Morris) was pretty emotional after even his substitute appearance against Nacional,” said Brian Schmetzer, the Sounders head coach. “I think hopefully that's going to drive Jordan, with that little bit of energy, to perform well."

Soccer fans won't see two of the most popular players in Sounders history on the field in Seattle anymore. Osvaldo Alonso, a former Sounders captain and original 2009 member, is now playing for Minnesota United FC.

And former Sounders fan favorite and U.S. men's national team captain, Clint Dempsey, retired last year.

"So how did we replace those two? It came from a combination of, again, a senior group,” Schmetzer said. “There's lots of guys in the locker room that can come in and fill those voids."

The organization is confident that Nicolas Lodeiro is one of those guys. The Sounders have officially announced that Lodeiro will be the team captain this year.

"This is a good thing for me,” Lodeiro said. “I'm very happy here so I want to show my best, because the fans deserve a good team."