2012 Olympic Soccer: US Women's Hopes for Four-Peat in Rio Rely on Alex Morgan

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIAugust 10, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09:  Alex Morgan #13 of United States looks on during the national anthem before taking on Japan during the Women's Football gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Alex Morgan's assist to Carli Lloyd in the eighth minute of their game against Japan helped the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team take an early lead and win the gold medal for the third straight time.

The 2012 Olympics were the first for Morgan, and she left her mark on London, scoring three times and playing a vital role in the Americans' gold medal run.

While the Americans found a winning combination again this year, they will lose quite a few key members of the team for the next Games.

Hope Solo will be 35 and could be done, along with backup goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, who will be 34. Abby Wambach will be 36 and in the final stages of her career, if she is still around. The hero of this year's gold medal game, Carli Lloyd, will be 34 and aging, and several other members may be gone or too old to be effective.

The team needs new leaders.

Among the young women who will be around and trying to lead the U.S. to a four-peat for gold in the 2016 Rio Games will be Morgan, the focal point of the team's offense.

Apart from being tied for fifth in scoring in this year's Olympics, Morgan already owns a big role with the U.S. squad. The Orlando Sentinel has called her the X-factor, while USA Today already referred to her as "the star of U.S. women's soccer."

Morgan scored 16 goals in her first 32 games with the national team, and has been a constant source of offense.

According to the USA Today article, she played well when forced to change her role in the gold medal game, and she has become a very versatile player.

When the Olympics roll around again in four years, Morgan will be the clear leader of the team. She is the future for U.S. soccer, and the hope for a fourth straight gold will rely on her.

Morgan helped lift the team to an extra time win over Canada this year, and in Rio she will try to take another step and lead the Americans to yet another gold.