Feature / Philadelphia Union II

Todd Morton, the Steel’s newest goalkeeper returns home

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Acquired on Thursday, August 1st from Real Salt Lake’s USL Championship affiliate team, the Real Monarchs, Todd Morton made his first appearance for Bethlehem that same night. While the 3-0 loss to Hartford Athletic wasn’t the greatest welcome home to the West Chester native, nonetheless it was his first USL appearance in his hometown’s club jersey. After spending years playing for local clubs and a university, putting on a Bethlehem Steel jersey is all the more sweeter for Morton.

“It was incredible. I’ve been training these last 7-8 months just for this opportunity, so to be able to get it at my hometown is a dream come true,” said Morton.

But really, the best part about being signed by the Steel is that Todd Morton is now his older brother’s in-state rival. Kyle Morton joined the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in January 2018 and led them to shutout victory on Independence Day and a 2-2 tie at the end of March against the Steel this season — unfortunately, that means a Morton brother Keystone State showdown isn’t in the cards this year.

“It’s amazing, although it’s a bummer that we’ve already played them twice, so we won’t get to play them again unfortunately, but just to be able to compete in the same league as him and hopefully be able to showcase a little bit better would be ideal, but it’s great,” said Morton. “Obviously, I don’t think it happens very often, where you get the opportunity to play against your brother, especially as a goalkeeper, so I’m sure he’s happy as well. I think he’s a little jealous though, that I got to play for the hometown!”

Early years in West Chester and Delaware

Like many of the Steel’s local players, Morton grew up playing for West Chester United and Penn Fusion. Ironically, he was a striker first, before transitioning to goalkeeper. Todd attributes the position switch to Kyle.

Chalk it up to some friendly sibling rivalry and envy.

“He’s always been my role model, I’d say he was the one trailblazer, first to put on the gloves. He’s always been the benchmark to try and push, and hopefully get to the same level and push on if I can, just that brother competition. He’s definitely been a big reason behind everything I do.”

Morton stayed relatively local for school. Following his freshman year, he transferred from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County to the University of Delaware where he attended from 2015 to 2018. Morton played 65 matches, made 226 saves and posted a record of 29-28-6 while at UD. He had a goals-against average of 1.22, a .741 save percentage and kept 17 clean sheets in his collegiate career.

Getting to the USL

Morton wasn’t drafted into the USL right after college. Before being signed to the Real Monarchs, Morton made appearances for Reading United and spent two summers with the Ocean City Nor’easters, during which he had several teams and agents reach out to him. He spent a week with Orlando City in the preseason before trialing with the Monarchs in Utah. Morton joined the Monarchs in February of this year and never made an appearance for the club.

Since the Steel’s most recent regular goalkeeper, Tomas Romero, left to play at Georgetown University starting this year, expect to see more of Todd Morton the rest of this year. He became just the 15th player on the Steel’s roster this year and  the third goalkeeper to sign with Bethlehem since the club began in 2016.

Most importantly, Morton fits in almost perfectly with Ernst Tanner’s homegrown ideology, which has been paying off for the Union in recent years.

“This move allows us to further the development of another Philadelphia-area product, as well as bolster our USL goalkeeping roster for the remainder of the season,” Tanner explained.

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