Uncertainty surrounds Morrison's unique path as minutes wane at Atlas
TIJUANA, Mexico -- Like many other Atlas players in the Estadio Caliente, midfielder Ravel Morrison was all smiles in the mixed zone after Friday's 2-2 away draw against Tijuana.
Following an early 2-0 deficit, Atlas bounced back with two late goals that clinched a much-needed draw. Morrison, after sitting on the bench during the first 45 minutes, was on the field in the second half while his squad fought back.
"It's a great comeback, I think the team did well," said the former Manchester United player with a grin on his face. "We started off slow, I think towards the end we should have won the game, but it's a great point to take away from an away game."
To say that his club needed the point might be an understatement. After 14 weeks in the 2018 Clausura, Atlas sits second to last. Along with the struggling relegation candidates Lobos BUAP, no Liga MX side has accumulated more losses than the two squads who have nine so far this season.
Atlas has been miserable throughout the tournament, and although there was reason to believe that the team would thrive this year, any hopes of consistency or noteworthy success have now been thrown out the window. Unfortunately for Morrison, the same could also be said about him.
Once a promising youth prospect in his Manchester United days, the midfielder has since become an erratic figure throughout his career. There have undoubtedly been flashes of brilliance on the pitch, but those moments have proven to be just as brief as his stay with several teams.
With stints at six European clubs since 2010, Morrison's resume resembles one typically associated with a veteran journeyman. Looking at the rosters he has been a part of, it's easy to forget that he only recently turned 25.
All that said, after signing a one-year loan with Atlas last summer, Morrison seems to be content with his latest move.
"It's nice, I like when the ball is on the floor and not in the air, I enjoy it here," responded the Atlas player when asked about his thoughts on the style of the Liga MX. "I think a lot of English players need to go abroad and play and experience, instead of staying in England. Because mainly, English players stay in England, but I think if you go abroad you can enjoy it a lot more."
When the conversation shifted to any problems adjusting to his change in lifestyle, he was quick to note that he had no issues. "I just take it day by day and enjoy it," Morrison said. "It's an experience and I enjoy it."
Nonetheless, despite his positivity after the match, it's also difficult to ignore his lack of impact with Atlas this year.
After a strong January that included two goals and three starts, Morrison quickly lost his spot in the Atlas XI. The Englishman became a substitute for the Guadalajara club, and since February, he has only been able to collect one start in league play.
As an option off the bench, it would be a stretch to say that he has taken charge. There is the occasional moment of magic when he has the ball at his feet, but in general, Morrison has proven to be average as a fringe player for his Mexican squad.
The raw talent is undoubtedly there, but the only reliable constant regarding Morrison is his inconsistency. In theory, a move to Mexico should have provided him with an invaluable second chance, but all it has shown is that he still has plenty to prove.
For better or worse, that second chance might still arrive through an unexpected and significant change in his national team career.
A few weeks back, Morrison posted an Instagram story that showed that the Manchester-born player was eyeing a potential call-up for Jamaica. On Friday, the midfielder followed up with ESPN FC about the recent developments regarding the Reggae Boyz.
"It's something that's in the process, it's looking to go more forward a bit," said Morrison about playing for Jamaica. "I think maybe it's a possibility."
Whether he joins Jamaica or not remains to be seen. It's unlikely that he will be involved in the upcoming friendlies this month, but once the CONCACAF Nations League kicks off in September, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see Morrison on the field for the Caribbean roster.
As for his time with Atlas, it's also up in the air if his journey in Mexico will soon end. According to reports, his Liga MX club has an option to buy the Englishman, who is currently on loan from Lazio. Whether Atlas will exercise the right to purchase the player is also uncertain.
Either way, Morrison's curious saga will continue down its atypical path.
Keeping in mind that he is only 25, it will be fascinating to see what the next chapter holds for the midfielder who has carved a unique path in his professional career.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.