TORONTO – Veteran defender Justin Morrow, second only to Jonathan Osorio in matches played for Toronto FC, says he is retiring at the end of the 2021 season.
The 33-year-old from Cleveland is in his eighth campaign with TFC. He has appeared in 246 matches for the club in all tournaments, behind Osorios 280.
“Both on and off the field, Justin has been a professional model,” Toronto President Bill Manning said in a statement Thursday. “He will retire as one of the best players who has ever worn a TFC jersey, a gentleman and a great family man who gave everything he had for the club and the city.”
In many ways, Morrow has been the franchise’s conscience. The former US international, who signed a new contract in February for the 2021 season, serves as CEO of Black Players for Change.
In announcing the new deal, general manager Ali Curtis said Morgan’s “versatility on the pitch, the veteran’s presence in the locker room and the senior management on and off the pitch have been critical of the club for a long time.”
When he is healthy, Morrow is a reliable, hard-working player with skills at both ends of the field. He is the top member of TFC’s fullback series, which includes Kemar Lawrence, Richie Laryea and Brazil’s Auro.
He has scored 18 goals and added 20 assists in Toronto colors.
Morrow has appeared in 14 league games this season, including six starts.
Morrow was named MLS Best XI 2017 and became the second TFC player to score a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls in September 2017. The victory earned the Toronto Supporters Shield, who goes to the team with the best record in the normal season.
Morrow scored a career-high eight goals in league games that season.
Toronto, which had already won the Canadian Championship, won the MLS Cup this year.
Originally taken in the second round (28th overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft of San Jose, Morrow made 73 appearances for the earthquakes before coming north in a trade in December 2013.
Morrow, who played collegiately at Notre Dame, also helped Toronto to the 2016 and 2018 Canadian Championships, secured the 2016, 2017 and 2019 MLS Eastern Conference championships and was part of the team that finished as number two in the CONCACAF Champions League 2018.
He is one of only four players to have played more than 200 games for the TFC along with Osorio, captain Michael Bradley and Mark Delgado.
Over the course of his career, Morrow has played 289 combined appearances (MLS regular season and MLS Cup playoffs) for TFC and San Jose, earning four internationals for the United States.
“Justin has had a unique career,” Curtis said. “He has been the type of player who gives everything he has and more to his teammates, coaches, the environment and the fans. I’m so glad I had the chance to work with him and get to know him.
“And although his contribution on the pitch has been important over the years, I think his biggest contribution will be off the pitch in the years to come. We’ve seen a glimpse of that in his role with Black Players for Change, but I really feel he has a bright future. ”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 16, 2021
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
Join the conversation