Morris scores twice, defending champion Sounders beat Fire
By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) Jordan Morris was more than a little disappointed. He wasn't downright angry because in the bigger context he understood the decision, but being told he was going to be on the bench the day Seattle celebrated its latest MLS Cup title didn't sit well.
“I was a little frustrated. It's the first game, you always want to be out there,” Morris said. “But I always respect the coaches, their decisions, and what's best for the team.”
When he did enter at halftime, Morris was clearly the best player on the field. He scored a pair of second-half goals, the second in the third minute of stoppage time, and the Seattle Sounders opened their MLS Cup defense with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Sunday.
Seattle started the day parading the MLS championship trophy through the streets and unveiling its second championship banner. But much of the opener had been a frustrating mix of being outplayed for stretches and missing several easy opportunities at goal.
Morris was the difference after coming on as a substitute. His goal in the 62nd minute off a cross from Cristian Roldan pulled Seattle even. The two connected again in stoppage time. Off a corner kick from João Paulo, Roldan whipped a header across the front of goal and Morris was standing at the back post to nod it home.
“(Roldan) put in two really good balls and I was just fortunate enough to be there to finish them,” Morris said.
Morris was relegated to coming on as a substitute more as a precaution than anything else. Morris played 84 minutes on Thursday night in the CONCACAF Champions League and Seattle coach Brian Schemtzer didn't want to overuse Morris this early and raise the risk of injury.
“But then Jordan's anger turned into, ‘I’m a team guy and I'm going to accept this decision,'" Schmetzer said. "I could just tell when we had spoken to him about getting warmed up and he was going in at halftime you could see on his face that he was motivated."
Robert Berić scored in the 46th minute for Chicago. The Fire, in their first game under coach Raphael Wicky, had two first-half goals waved off because of offside. Seattle also had a goal in the 56th minute overturned on video replay after Morris was ruled offside.
“We’re very disappointed,” Berić said. “I think we had a good game. It was just the last 10 or 15 minutes, we dropped, and unluckily, we lose at the end. We didn’t deserve that.”
Many of the 40,126 that eventually filled CenturyLink Field marched to the stadium before the match with the championship trophy leading the way, and reveled in the celebration and memories of the title won 3 1/2 months earlier in the same stadium with a victory over Toronto. But the opener to the MLS season came at the end of a disappointing and frustrating couple of weeks for the club.
Seattle was surprisingly ousted from the CONCACAF Champions League by CD Olimpia of Honduras, blowing leads in both matches of the two-leg series before being eliminated on penalty kicks. It was a competition Seattle put significant effort and resources into this season in the hope of being the first MLS squad to win the competition under its current format, only to be the lone MLS team eliminated in the round of 16.
“As the clock was ticking down and thinking it might end 1-1 that was exactly on my mind can we get a last-minute goal, can we send the fans home happy, can we energize the team. I think that happened," Schmetzer said.
Seattle also played the opener without three key starters, most notably midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. He is sidelined by a hamstring injury.
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Updated March 1, 2020