London 2012: Alex Morgan Is Key to USWNT's Gold-Medal Hopes
For the better part of the last decade, Abby Wambach has been the deciding factor for the United States women's soccer team.
As the 2012 Olympic Games approach, however, it's clear who is the most important player on the American side: 23-year-old striker and rising star Alex Morgan.
Of course, this is meant not to discredit what Wambach means to a U.S. team plenty capable of taking home gold in London. Wambach, whose total of 138 goals in international competition makes her second all-time to Mia Hamm, is still one of the world's most dominant players and a leader that American coach Pia Sundhage leans on heavily.
But Morgan ultimately holds the final key to the Americans' having gold around their necks this summer and freeing the U.S. from its heart-breaking loss to Japan in the 2011 World Cup final.
The rise to fame in the women's side came quickly for Morgan, who was just 22 years old when she scored a goal and tallied an assist in the United States' loss to Japan a year ago.
Morgan was just a substitute in those games, however.
Against Japan, Morgan scored one of the more flashy goals of the tournament, after coming on in the second half, and then delivered a perfect ball onto Wambach's head for the game's tying goal in 104th minute.
The United States would lose in the eventual shootout, but a star was born in Germany that night. That said, Morgan has been a productive player throughout her national career, despite being one of the youngest players on the team.
Since joining the national team in 2010, Morgan has tallied an eye-catching 27 goals in just 42 appearances. In the past year alone, while finally starting alongside Wambach upfront, Morgan has 17 goals in 15 appearances.
Morgan's breathtaking speed has always been her most valuable asset on the pitch, but Grant Wahl of Sports Illiustrated wrote recently that "teammates say her tactical awareness is growing by leaps and bounds," while calling Morgan one of the "[a]thletes to watch" during the women's tournament in London.
Wambach will likely continue to get the most attention of any player on the U.S. side, and rightfully so. She's motivated to win gold after getting so close last year and missing the 2008 Olympics with a broken leg, and few players in the world match her physical style and dominance in the air.
However, it will be up to Morgan to continue making the most of the opportunities afforded to her by Wambach's presence.
If she's on target with the goal in London as she has been throughout the last calendar year, there shouldn't be a team in the 2012 Olympics that can beat the Americans.
It's a heavy burden to put on a 23-year-old player, but Morgan has already proven plenty capable of shouldering the load.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?