London 2012 Olympics: 10 Things You Need to Know About Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan has been a soccer sensation since she starred in the U.S. national team's run to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup final. Since that tournament, she has been the biggest breakout star in the sport—on both the men's and women's side.
She has done all this despite only recently breaking into the starting lineup, as head coach Pia Sundhage preferred to use Morgan as a substitute at the World Cup and even afterward. Morgan continues to score goals, no matter what her role.
Morgan is the U.S. women's version of Landon Donovan in that any domestic league that gets established in the country will only do better if she stays involved. Having stars of her quality can ensure the success of any women's professional league that may spring up.
With her stock already high, Morgan has a chance to star in another tournament at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Let's take a closer look at what has brought her this far and what makes her the player (and person) she is.
1. Morgan Has 27 Goals in 42 National Team Appearances
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Even though she has spent the majority of her national team career coming off the bench, Alex Morgan has scored goals by the boatload for the U.S. It all started with an 83rd-minute goal in a 2010 friendly against China to tie the game.
At the 2011 Women's World Cup, she didn't score until the semifinal, but then she scored in that game and once in the final—again, coming off the bench.
In all, her 27 goals in 42 games for the national team is better than a one-goal-every-two-games pace.
2. She Has Jumped on the FC Barcelona Bandwagon
Like most people in the world (it seems), Alex Morgan has declared herself to be an FC Barcelona fan.
"Barça play the best soccer in the world," she told the team's website in March. "They do magic on the field."
She said she started watching Barcelona in college—where all lifelong habits start—and has admired the team ever since.
3. Morgan Scored the Goal That Sent the U.S. Women to the 2011 World Cup
Expected to win the 2011 World Cup before it even started, the U.S. struggled to even qualify for the tournament, having to play a two-legged playoff against Italy.
The U.S. finished in third place at the CONCACAF Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament in 2010 to force the playoff series. Late in the first leg in Italy, Morgan scored the game-winning goal (video above) to send the U.S. home with a 1-0 lead.
After winning the return leg by the same score, the Americans qualified for the World Cup.
4. She Has Two Pictures of Elvis Presley on Her Wall (and Some Other Cool Stuff)
Alex Morgan is from Diamond Bar, Calif., which is a little way outside of Los Angeles. She explains her hometown best in a video from U.S. Soccer (above).
Of note: her impressive trophy collection that includes a Silver Ball and a Bronze Boot and the two posters of Elvis Presley on her wall.
5. She Was a MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist...
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In her senior year of college, Alex Morgan was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection for the University of California Golden Bears. She was also a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is the Heisman of college soccer.
She only played 12 games for her college team that year because of World Cup qualifying, but Morgan still led Cal with 14 goals and 30 points.
Christen Press, from Pac-10 rival Stanford, ended up winning the trophy.
6. ...And Was the First Overall Pick of the WPS Draft That Year
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Despite not being voted the top college soccer player in 2010, Alex Morgan did go first in the WPS draft. She was selected by the Western New York Flash.
In her only season in WPS before the league folded, Morgan started six games and scored four goals in 13 total appearances. In 2012, she signed with the Seattle Sounders Women, although she made limited appearances because of her commitments with the U.S. Olympic team.
She scored two goals and had two assists in 253 minutes of W-League play.
7. Morgan Is No. 66 on the 2012 Maxim Hot 100 List
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As she continues her success on the field, she has also entered the "hotness stratosphere," as Lynn Hoppes of ESPN called it.
"I know it all sort of blew up—in a positive way—because of the SI body-painting photos," Morgan said. "I'm glad I did it. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback and I'm happy with the results. You never know what you're going to get with body paint."
8. However, She Has a Boyfriend, and He's Pretty Good at Soccer, Too
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Since college, Alex Morgan has been dating Servando Carrasco, a midfielder for Seattle Sounders FC. This summer, they both played for the club, with Morgan suiting up for the women's team.
The Seattle Times' Steve Kelley wrote an excellent profile on the two of them as "Seattle's first couple of soccer." This summer was the first time since their college days that they've played in the same city.
While they both watch each other's games and offer critical observations, Morgan told the U.S. Soccer website that the critiques are more of a one-way street:
I definitely critique his game more, which he maybe doesn’t like so much, but the way I’ve been brought up to is take critiques and turn them into positives in my game. I guess I wish he would critique me more.
9. Morgan Won the Silver Ball at the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup
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Alex Morgan came up through the U.S. national team system, starting at the youth levels before progressing into the first team. At the 2008 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup, Morgan was a star, helping the U.S. win its second title at that level.
For her efforts, she also won the Silver Ball, given to the tournament's second-best player, and the Bronze Boot for third-highest scorer. Teammate Sydney Leroux won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot.
Morgan parlayed that performance into her first full national team camp in late 2010 and her first cap in March 2011, playing on a snowy field in Salt Lake City against Mexico.
10. Morgan's Love of Yoga May Have Saved Her Life Once
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Like many elite athletes, Alex Morgan loves to do yoga. It's somewhat of a phenomenon on the U.S. women's national team.
Morgan told U.S. Soccer in 2011(h/t movifan.com):
I would recommend bikram (yoga) because it definitely helps with flexibility and athletes need to be flexible to avoid injury and play at their best. If you are an athlete, you probably love to sweat and I probably sweat more in bikram than I do in a full 90-minute game. It’s a great way to cleanse the body and feel energized.
Yoga has also featured in her Olympic preparation.
did a yoga sesh this morning... feelin good and ready for practice!— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) June 18, 2011
However, during the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver, B.C., yoga turned into a life-saving activity. The U.S. team was "saved by our instant yoga session," according to a tweet from goalkeeper Hope Solo, when a fatal shooting occurred at the team hotel.