Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris will miss the entire MLS season after tearing the ACL in his right knee, the club confirmed on Monday.
Morris was injured in the Sounders' first game of the year last Thursday, a 2-1 defeat to Santa Tecla in El Salvador in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The 23-year-old fell to the ground without being touched in the 83rd minute and had to be helped off the field.
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey confirmed that the Sounders will not rush Morris back for a possible return around the playoffs, with an eye to doing "what's best for him long-term."
"Part of what we have seen is that guys that come back in that six month time frame have a much higher rate of re-injury," Lagerwey told the Seattle Times.
"So, part of what we're looking at here in ruling Jordan out for the season is not what's best for the Sounders in 2018, but what's best for Jordan Morris in terms of his career."
Very humbled by all the love and support. Thank you all! I'm so sad I won't be out in front of you guys playing right now, but I promise I'll work hard everyday to comeback stronger and get back on the field playing for the team and city I love #SSFC 💚💙 pic.twitter.com/U2BuR99hDJ— Jordan Morris (@JmoSmooth13) February 26, 2018
Lagerwey cited the example of Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who saw a drop in production last season after returning seven months after an ACL tear to play in the 2016 World Series.
Morris' injury will allow the Sounders to sign a new designated player to replace him for the upcoming season, with MLS play starting on Sunday against LAFC, and Lagerwey confirmed the club's transfer plans have now changed.
"Where we were looking for maybe somebody who was more of a chance creator, or with more speed, now it does impact how we search for players," Lagerwey said.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer backed the U.S. international to bounce back after he recovers.
"Obviously, it's a blow to a young player," Schmetzer said. "Jordan has a ton of talent, a bright future ahead of him. It's certainly a setback, but it's not a setback he can't overcome. I have all the confidence in Jordan that he is going to pull through this and be a significant part of the team."