Wilfried Nancy has only been in charge of the Columbus Crew for a months, but it looks like Aidan Morris is becoming the latest MLS talent to reap the rewards of working with the French manager.
Morris registered his first MLS brace on Saturday night as the Crew rolled past Real Salt Lake 4-0 at Lower.com Field. The 21-year-old midfielder was named Man of the Match for the Crew as Columbus made it back-to-back lopsided victories on home soil and moved to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Morris’ opening goal came off a stellar team play which concluded with Lucas Zelarayan’s back-heel pass in the box allowing the former Indiana University standout to stroke home a one-time finish. 17-year-old RSL goalkeeper Gavin Beavers attempted to get in front of Morris’ powerful shot but was unable to repel it as Morris celebrated his second-career MLS goal.
“It’s everything we work on,” Morris added about the team’s first goal. “I’m not going to spoil our tricks, but just making the movement, trusting my teammates and the ball’s at my feet.”
Morris’ second and final goal came in the 53rd minute with the Crew extending their lead to 3-0 on their Western Conference visitors. The attacking midfielder pounced on a rebound in the box and made no mistake to continue the Crew’s confident approach in front of goal.
After coming into 2023 with zero goals to his name, Morris now has three tallies for the Crew this season as he continues to grow into an all-around midfielder. Morris’ role increased in 2022 by making 27 appearances under Caleb Porter, just two years after he lifted MLS Cup with the Crew as a rookie in the league.
Nancy has been pleased with Morris’ early-season start, but will demand more of him as the season moves forward.
“The fact that he scored, we knew as a staff that he was able to score, it was not an issue for that,” said Nancy postgame. “Now what I like about Aidan is that he was not happy about his game. And this is Aidan. He likes to all the time challenge himself.
“This is the, I don’t know if I’m going to say it well in English, but the learning curve, and he’s spot-on on it, because he’s processing a lot of things,” Nancy added. “But again, this is Aidan. He was good also defensively to win a lot of balls high on the pitch and to anticipate all the balls also defensively. And offensively yes, today was not his best game but he scored, so good for him. the fact that he scored, I’m going to be more demanding with him.”
Morris’ impressive sophomore season in 2022 led to his first U.S. men’s national team call-up in January as he made his debut in a 2-1 friendly loss to Serbia this winter. He has followed that up by starting in all six of the Crew’s matches in MLS play, logging 90 minutes in five of those six matches.
With Morris riding a strong run of form and the Crew following suit, the long-term goal will be to keep that consistency flowing ahead of a busy April schedule.
“It’s awesome,” Morris said of his and the Crew’s run of form. “I mean, for now. We’ve got a lot more work to do. The job is not done. I think ‘comfortable’ is the wrong term. It’s just challenging. Coach does such a good job of challenging me and pushing me every single game, giving me a test to kind of approach and take on. So I’m loving every second of this.