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Jordan Morris expects Sounders to have a target on their backs

After winning the MLS Rookie of the Year award and helping the Sounders win their first-ever MLS Cup championship, Jordan Morris is ready for his encore. But Morris also knows he and the defending champs won’t be sneaking up on anybody when the 2017 regular season starts March 4.

“I think we’ll have a target on our back a little bit, but we don’t mind it and we’re excited to get back going and try and defend our title,” Morris told “Danny, Dave and Moore” Wednesday as part of the show’s ongoing series spotlighting rising stars in Seattle sports. “I think the guys are jelling well together. A lot of new faces but really good guys and we’re just excited to get going.”

Morris, 22, lived up to the hype last season, scoring 12 goals and being a driving force in the team’s second-half resurgence after a 6-12-2 start. The Mercer Island native credited new coach Brian Schmetzer for establishing a winning team identity, as well as the signing of “game-changer” Nicolas Lodeiro, for the team’s turnaround. Still, he wasn’t immune to the criticisms from the first half of the season, when he was still finding his touch.

“It was definitely a roller-coaster and, my first year, it makes you realize how things are going to go up and down pretty quickly in some seasons,” he said. “It’s such a long season so things aren’t going to always be smooth sailing.

“… It was tough at first, there was five or so games where I wasn’t scoring, and with social media it’s pretty easy to see how people were being negative.”

Other highlights from the conversation:

On his living situation: “I’m actually living back at home with my parents, so no rent. … Back at home, yeah. It’s funny, so saving a little money that way, which is good.”

On Stefan Frei’s incredible MLS Cup save: “That save, ooh, I’ll never forget that. It’s the best save I’ve ever seen in person and in such a crucial time. And once he made that save, I was like, OK, everything‘s going our way, I think it’s gonna work out for us.”

On managing his type 1 diabetes: “I was diagnosed when I was 9 years old and part of my life now. It was definitely challenging at first but I was very lucky. My dad’s a doctor and my mom was a nurse so they helped me out a lot. Got this tattoo (on his right forearm) probably two years ago. I was supposed to be wearing a bracelet around and I never did so my mom actually came up with the idea to get a tattoo.”

On being glad he returned to Seattle: “I went over there (to Germany) to test it out a little bit and I feel like it was good for me to know because if I hadn’t, maybe I’d be thinking, ‘What if?’ But when I went over there, it made my decision clear that I really wanted to come back and play in my hometown, play in front of my family, play for the city that I love. It was a little bit of a tough decision but when I went over there it really cemented in my mind that I wanted to be in Seattle, and I’m very happy with the decision.”