Alex Morgan's 6 Best Goals for the US Women's National Team

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2013

Alex Morgan's 6 Best Goals for the US Women's National Team

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    Alex Morgan, the shining star of the United States Women's National Team, is picking up where she left off in 2012.

    Morgan has a total of 44 goals in her short but illustrious career—28 of those came in 2012. That is the third-highest total in USWNT history, behind only Abby Wambach and Michelle Akers.

    In 2013, she has continued her strong performance in important tournaments. She was tied for top scorer in the Algarve Cup. She was also instrumental in the USWNT's victories against some of the strongest teams in the world.

    On this list you may miss some of her more spectacular or beautiful goals. The beauty of a goal does not automatically make it her best. With women's football so top-heavy, it is less impressive when she exploits lesser teams.

    This list will focus on her premier goals against the best of the best.

    These are her six best goals.

No. 6: First Hat Trick vs. Sweden

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    The first on the list is the final goal of Morgan's first hat trick.

    It may be a bit of a cop-out, but it is a milestone for any prolific scorer. The first time they break the three-goal mark in a single match means something.

    Sweden has always been a solid team. Under the guidance of Pia Sundhage, and with the collection of talent around her, Morgan dominated the match.

    In 2012, Canada was the best team they had played until this point in the season. The third-place match of the Algarve Cup was important. After losing to Japan, again, the U.S. was reeling. They needed to rebound in a big way, and Morgan answered that call.

    It was an important goal for both player and team.

No. 5: Algarve Cup Final vs. Germany

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    The 2013 Algarve Cup final pitted the two best teams in the world against one another.

    Morgan scored early, and it was a product of the team's speed.

    Sydney Leroux got to the ball, made the cross, and Morgan finished. The finish from Morgan was special in itself, and that's why it lands here.

    Against the staunch defense of Germany, Morgan took one touch in traffic and buried the ball with a left-footed shot. Excellent stuff.

    The second goal of the match was a blunder by the German defense. Morgan took advantage. The U.S. would win 2-0 and claim the Algarve Cup title. Morgan shared the honors of being the top goal scorer of the tournament.

    It was the first goal that was special, and that's why it appears at No. 5.

No. 4: 2013 U.S. vs. Canada (Rematch)

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    After the London Games, the fans around the world of women's soccer were eagerly anticipating the rematch between Canada and the United States.

    The first goal of the match was scored by Morgan. Abby Wambach found Morgan, and she placed the ball in the back of the net like the amazing scoring machine that she is. The second goal was similar, but better.

    Tobin Heath put in a beautiful pass to Morgan, who was free behind the defense.

    What makes the goal special is the first touch in combination with the angle of the shot. It highlights how good Morgan is. She made it look easy. Morgan controlled the ball, placed it perfectly and came away with another big goal.

No. 3: 2012 Olympics vs. France

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    Thank heavens for Alex Morgan.

    The start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London had a shockingly slow and scary start for the United States.

    The high-powered offense of France blitzed the USWNT right away with two quick goals. The U.S. had the firepower to catch back up, but two goals is not something to take lightly. It could have easily put the U.S. behind the eight-ball.

    The U.S. got a goal back, and then suddenly it was all tied up again. Thanks to Morgan.

    Hope Solo blasted a ball deep, Morgan picked it up and then put it away. She lofted it nicely over the oncoming keeper. It was her first Olympic goal, one that helped the U.S. top the group. It was a showcase of speed and touch.

No. 2: Women's World Cup vs. Japan

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    Yes, the USWNT ended up losing the game on penalty kicks, but if not for Alex Morgan it never would have gotten to that point.

    It's important to note that Morgan was not a starter at this point in her career. She was a second-half substitute. Morgan came in after halftime and made an impact.

    Morgan scored the first goal of the match.

    The 69th minute saw Megan Rapinoe deliver a long pass to Morgan, who took two touches to bury it in the back of the net. The USWNT would go on to lose the all-important 2011 final, but if not for Morgan getting the action started for the Americans, they would have lost in regulation.

    It was the start of Morgan showing her value in prime-time matches.

No. 1: Olympic Semifinal vs. Canada

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    This is not a surprise to anyone—the semifinal final match against Canada is now alongside the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal vs. Brazil in USWNT lore.

    It was a physical match. Canada is one of the few nations that can match the United States' physicality, and they put it to the test. Bumps, bruises and blood all happened on the pitch in London.

    Wambach was the hero at the World Cup, but this was the changing-of-the-guard moment. Morgan took her place as the star of the team.

    In injury time of the second overtime, it was a tie game—and with only one possession left to score, she did.

    Heather O'Reilly got the ball, took a look and blasted a cross in. Morgan took a page out of Wambach's book and headed the ball in. The goal left Canada shocked. They were on the brink of taking the USWNT to penalties, and failed.

    Morgan has a propensity for late goals, but none later than this. It was a FIFA record. It propelled the USWNT to the finals, where they would collect gold.