As the 2019 U.S. Men’s National Team January Camp progresses, the group welcomed two familiar faces to Chula Vista during the weekend. Veteran forwards Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris were invited to visit the Elite Athlete Training Center to get their first taste of this new era of the National Team.
“I was invited by Gregg Berhalter to come observe the group and kind of be a fly on the wall along with Jordan,” Altidore told ussoccer.com “I’m honored to be here. I’m always honored to take part in anything when it comes to the National Team. I’m just excited to be out here and around the guys again.”
“The energy level for the few days I’ve been here has been really high,” Morris added. “The guys are buying into everything the new coaching staff has been bringing and it’s a really exciting time. I’m grateful to be out here and to the coaching staff for letting me come and hang out for a few days.”
Morris was part of the January Camp group last year and played the full 90 minutes against Bosnia and Herzegovina before returning to Seattle Sounders FC ahead of the club’s busy 2018 schedule. Less than a month later, his outlook for the year took an unfortunate turn in Seattle’s first competitive match, tearing his ACL late in a first leg Concacaf Champions League tie on Feb. 22. against Salvadoran side Santa Tecla.
Just like that, his season with Seattle was over the day it started. Surgery was required and a long road to recovery ensued. Months of rehab have put him close to being re-integrated back on the training field for the club, and he hopes soon again for the National Team.
“It’s been a long year. It’s been tough,” Morris said. “You don’t realize how much you can miss the game until you’re off the field [for that long]. It’s been a long year, but I’m excited to be back. It’s been a lot of rehab the last year, getting in the gym, making my quad stronger and trying to rehab the knee. I’m coming up on the end of the recovery process now, which is exciting.”
Away from the National Team in 2018, Altidore had a mix of fortunes with Toronto FC last season. A foot injury required surgery and forced him to miss a bulk of matches at midseason, while and an ankle ailment kept him out of the Reds’ final three games, but he still managed to register 13 goals and two assists in 24 competitive matches.
Like Morris, the 29-year-old forward with 110 caps to his name says he’s also “on the comeback train,” and as a true veteran in the group now ready to help any way he can. He’s been encouraged at the snapshot he’s seen of camp and the new wave of players that have made in-road with the MNT the past year.
“Everybody seems really excited and enjoying themselves,” Altidore added. “They really seem like they’re getting after it. Everything looks really organized and tailor made to the players, which is awesome to see. I’m excited to have the chance to be out here around the group.”
“I don’t remember seeing that many young guys that are playing in good clubs in Europe, good clubs in MLS, coming through the ranks and getting minutes with the National Team. I’m excited to watch these guys grow. I’ll hopefully be a part of it any way that I can. I think the future is very bright.”