This year's most talked-about newcomer is different. Unlike those stars, who established themselves in Europe's biggest leagues, Jordan Morris came into MLS with zero professional experience. He joined his hometown Seattle Sounders straight from Stanford, where he helped the Cardinal to the 2015 national championship by scoring five of the team's 12 goals in the NCAA tournament.
Morris also made waves when he suited up for the U.S. national team in 2014 against Ireland. He became the first college player to appear for the Yanks in 19 years.
So when Morris arrived in Seattle, high expectations accompanied him. The day he signed in January, the Sounders tweeted out a picture of Morris holding a Sounders scarf next to a nearly identical picture of Lionel Messi. So much for easing into the job.
The hype kept building when Morris didn't score in his first five games of the season, but he finally found the net against the Philadelphia Union on April 16. (He added another a week later that was nominated for MLS goal of the week.)
After his first goal, he celebrated on the sideline with his father, who is the Sounders team physician. "It's cool to have my dad there," Morris said. "It was a special moment I think for him too. He just gave me a high five and a smile. I'm sure we'll talk about it more later." And Sounders fans hope they'll have plenty more to high five about later.
Photo: Ted S. Warren/AP