American soccer has had its fair share of brothers over the years — names like the Allens, the Najems, the Farfans and the Curtins to name a few — but ask around about brothers who have both played goalkeeper at the professional level and it’s a little harder to come up with names.
That is until this season in the USL Championship when Kyle Morton and Todd Morton join the ranks of brothers to play professional soccer in the U.S. The elder Morton, Pittsburgh Riverhounds goalkeeper Kyle Morton is being joined this season in the professional ranks by his brother Todd Morton, who was recently signed by the Real Monarchs after finishing his college soccer career at the University of Delaware.
The Mortons grew up in West Chester and before this year hadn’t ventured too far away from home — Kyle spent five years at James Madison before joining the Rochester Rhinos in 2017 and Todd spent the last four seasons at Delaware after transferring from UMBC.
“I don’t think I would be where I am right now without Kyle,” Todd Morton said in a recent interview. “Just seeing him going through these experiences a couple years before, he’s been a great mentor to me and it helped me going through the process. That’s been massive and on top of that he’s always pushed me to get better.”
Kyle, who turns 25 at the end of the month, was the first of the Morton brothers to play in goal in their youth soccer days in West Chester. Both played for West Chester United, Penn Fusion Academy and Kyle spent some time training with the Philadelphia Union Academy in high school.
“Kyle is the trailblazer,” Todd said. “I was a striker for West Chester United trying to score goals and I guess watching him play and the game got quicker for me I decided to give it a try because he had so much success with it.”
Kyle remembers his brother being more interested in Power Rangers than soccer until about age 10.
“I think he was a little envious of me to be honest,” Kyle Morton said.
Neither brother was drafted out of college, but both B. Reed Henderson High School graduates found their way to USL after college in somewhat different circumstances. Kyle was able to catch the eye of head coach Bob Lilley, who gave him a shot in Rochester and has brought him back to Pittsburgh for a second season.
Todd earned accolades playing at Ocean City Nor’easters over the past two summers (he and Kyle both spent time with Reading United as well) and despite not being invited to the MLS Combine or being on the draft eligible list had several teams and agents reaching out to him.
“His situation was much different than mine because I didn’t have that kind of interest but since I’ve been in the league a couple years I helped him out as best as I could,” Kyle Morton said.
“I’ve always been kind of under the radar and I try not to let any of that stuff bother me,” Todd Morton said about not being drafted. “Being here now there’s that pathway to the first team so my goal is to keep pushing and hopefully something can work out. Just having that opportunity in front of you is a great motivator.”
Todd said the coaching staff, which includes first team goalkeeper coach Todd Hoffard, a Lancaster County, Pa. native, Real Monarchs keeper coach Matt Glaeser and academy keeper coach Mirza Harambasic, has been a huge benefit already.
“Being here is going to be really great for my development,” Morton said. “I have three different goalkeeper coaches I’m working with right now. They all are slightly different in the way they train, the way they coach so I’m basically just taking in as much as I can.”
Glaeser, who is also from the East Coast, said he’s followed Morton for the past few years when he was starring with the Blue Hens.
“He was really just for me a raw kid with size and a good upside and from the conversations when I followed him and talked to him on the phone he’s the kind of kid who has the right attitude and wants to get better,” Glaeser said.
Morton will compete this season with another goalkeeper with ties to Pennsylvania in former Penn State keeper Evan Finney and 18-year-old first team keeper David Ochoa.
Back home in Pennsylvania on the opposite end of the state, older brother Kyle is returning from an ACL injury that limited him to three games in his first season with the Riverhounds. He’s split time in the preseason with another player from our area in Greenville, Del. native Ben Lundgaard, who is on loan from the Columbus Crew.
Self-described as the more anxious and high-strung of the Morton brothers, Kyle said he has learned a lot from his younger brother about being more laid back. The two are close and talk regularly but also have a friendly rivalry. They faced each other twice in college but both teams would have to make the final for that to happen this season.
“We went 1-1 against each other in college so that would definitely settle it,” Kyle Morton said.
Todd signing with Real Monarchs means there are currently four players from West Chester in the pro ranks: Atlanta United’s Jeff Larentowicz, Bethlehem Steel FC midfielder Zach Zandi and the Mortons. There’s also a number of goalkeepers from the area playing at a high level, including current Crew and future Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who grew up in nearby Downingtown and Philadelphia native John McCarthy (now of the Tampa Bay Rowdies) along with Union homegrown keeper Matt Freese and college standouts Will Smith at Lehigh and A.J. Marcucci at Connecticut College.
“Especially in the goalkeeping department it’s crazy the amount of goalkeepers that are in in the area,” Todd Morton said. “One thing that’s been great about that is my brother and I we’re able to get three, four five or six guys together and actually get full training as well, which is nice because obviously you have guys in the area who are at a good level.”
The USL Championship season opens this weekend. Real Monarchs travel to play Sacramento Republic while the Pittsburgh Riverhounds open their season on the road next Saturday at Tampa Bay Rowdies.