Every week at The Center Circle, we are highlighting a different player in a feature we call “On the Spot”. We’ll take a look at superstars, underrated gems, aging veterans, and young unknowns who should be known. We’ll peruse their club and international careers, taking note of their teams, statistics, and highlight reels. We’ll illuminate their strengths and weaknesses and comment on their personalities and reputations. It will be some fun. If there is anyone you want to see “On the Spot”, feel free to comment below.
Alex Morgan is arguably the most famous female athlete in the United States at this point in time. Her mix of an amazing goal-scoring talent and dashing looks have grabbed the public’s attention ever since she burst on the scene in 2011. Morgan’s meteoric rise shows no signs of slowing down as this year’s Women’s World Cup gets ready to open up in Canada.
The Young Gun
Soccer has been a part of Alex Morgan’s life since she was a teenager growing up in Diamond Bar, California. During her high school career, Morgan was named an NSCAA All-American and earned herself an opportunity to continue playing at the University of California at Berkeley. The college stage only gave the California star an even bigger place to show her amazing talents. Through her four years as a Golden Bear, Morgan managed to lead the team in goals and points every single year. Overall, Morgan ended her collegiate career with 45 goals and 107 points.
This impressive four-year run was capped with Morgan being called up to represent the US Women’s National Team by, then-coach Pia Sundhage, in 2010 when she earned her first appearance as a substitute against Mexico. Morgan ended 2010 with a goal scoring record of four goals in eight games for the national team. This form gave the world only a glimpse as to what the 21-year-old from Diamond Bar could do on the international stage.
Her amazing college record and bright international start convinced the Western New York Flash of the fledgling WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) to take her first overall in their 2011 draft. This would prove to be a very momentous year for Morgan as she joined the national team for the Women’s World Cup in June. In a roster that featured US legends such as Shannon Boxx (186 appearances for the national team) and Abby Wambach (all-time leading US women’s goal scorer with 177 tallies), Morgan was the youngest person on the squad. As she had done throughout her playing career, Morgan added her scoring touch to the team. Her first goal of the tournament came late in the semi-final against a resilient French team to give the Americans a 3-1 lead and secure a trip to the final. Morgan went on to prove herself on the biggest of stages by scoring again in the final against Japan while also providing an assist to Abby Wambach in a match the US ultimately lost in penalty kicks.
After that night in Frankfurt, it appeared that every person in the states wanted to know about this new star that had been born. They would not have to wait long to see her shine in the US kit as Morgan joined the team for the 2012 London Olympics. In the group stages, Morgan notched two goals and two assists. Her impressive performances didn’t stop there as she scored one of the most notable goals in US history during the closing moments of extra time in the semi-final game against Canada to send America into the final for a World Cup rematch against Japan. In the final, Morgan didn’t hit the back of the net but she did assist a Carli Lloyd header in a 2-1 gold medal victory. She finished the tournament with a grand total of three goals and a team-leading five assists.
The new American hero ended 2012 with 28 goals and 21 assists out of 31 games. Now the word was out: Alex Morgan scores goals.
During the Algarve Cup in 2013, Morgan finished with three goals and four assists for the US. Her habit of scoring late-dramatic goals continued as she notched the equalizer in the semi-final against Sweden, and then she added on another two against the Germans in the final to clinch another trophy for a dominant US national team. Later, Morgan was even named as one of the members of US Women’s All-Time National team at just 24 years of age lining up with Wambach, and the legendary Mia Hamm.
Currently, Morgan is suiting up for Portland Thorns FC of the new National Women’s Soccer League. The 26-year-old has amassed an astonishing 49 goals in just 77 games for the national team. That means that she scores more than half of the time that she steps onto the field.
Morgan suffered a sprained ankle during a World Cup Qualifier against Guatemala last October. When she suffered a similar injury in 2013, the US lost the forward for seven months. This sprain was significant enough for the national team to rule her out for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship later that year. It was estimated that it would take between four to six weeks to fully heal. On January 26th, national team coach Jill Ellis told reporters that Morgan was almost back to peak shape but still needed to sharpen some aspects of her game after such a long absence. Ellis fully expects Morgan to be healthy for the upcoming World Cup.
Style of Play
Morgan isn’t a flashy player, but that doesn’t make her any less dangerous of a goal scoring threat. Her menacing speed and strength give Morgan an almost unfair advantage on the field. She can do it all. If you take away her right foot, she can score just as easily with her left. Leave her open on a corner and she’ll make sure to punish you with her amazing heading ability. It will be interesting to see how teams try to stop the player the media’s deemed “Baby Horse” when they come up against her in June.
Off The Field
Sorry to all of the US fans that have a crush on the 26-year-old superstar, but she just got married. Morgan and her longtime boyfriend, Servando Carrasco (who currently plays for MLS side Sporting KC), decided to tie the knot last December.
Morgan has also been featured in Sports Illustrated’s famous Swimsuit Issue and also in ESPN The Magazine’s music edition. ESPN also had Morgan appear in a special sports documentary The 99ers during their Nine for IX documentary series.