Alex Morgan on World Cup, Injuries, Paulina Gretzky & the Future of US Soccer

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Alex Morgan on World Cup, Injuries, Paulina Gretzky & the Future of US Soccer
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Alex Morgan is stealing the World Cup trophy for America! Or, more appropriately stated, Morgan—one of the best women's soccer players on the planet—is leading a group of celebrities and stars of the game, along with Coca-Cola, to bring the World Cup trophy to America as part of a multi-national tour to Brazil this summer.

I spoke with Morgan this week about the World Cup tour as well as her thoughts on the current state of the game—for both the men and women's United States national teams—heading into a very important time for soccer in this country.

Morgan and I also discussed how hard it has been for her to miss time due to a prolonged ankle injury, how her recovery is going both physically and emotionally and what advice she has for some of the stars of the men's game that may miss the World Cup due to injury.

Additionally, Morgan shared some thoughts about the future of the game in America, and we had a laugh at the insanity of seven-year olds playing travel soccer. Morgan didn't begin playing travel and select soccer until she was a teenager, and didn't focus just on soccer until high school, which makes me wonder if my six-year old playing three days a week is a great sign for the future of the sport in this country, or absolutely insane.

Here are Morgan's thoughts, with my written questions before each video. To check out the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, click here.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

It seems like Jurgen Klinsmann has revitalized interest and hope, really, in the U.S. men's national team. I wanted to see your thoughts on what he has done, and then compare it to the women's team and how difficult the transition is going to be in the next few months as you gear up for your World Cup run next year. 

Also, it has been a difficult few months for you, obviously with the injury and all of the issues going on within the women's national team right now—how have the last few months felt for you both emotionally and physically?

Along those lines, you can surely empathize with the likes of Falcao, Benteke, Walcott, Khedira, Oviedo...the list of great players who are very important to their countries continues to grow as the World Cup nears.

You missed a big tournament this year and hopefully will be back for your World Cup qualifying run. What would you say to the players who spent four years building up to the biggest event in the world and then get hurt in club ball and may not be able to participate?

How frustrating is it for you that when the World Cup comes around or other major events like the Olympics take place, we care a lot about women's soccer. It's probably one of the two biggest women's sports in the world. And yet it hasn't really taken a foothold at the club level.

When you compare it to the men's game, as one of the most prominent players in the world, is there something they are not doing—there are millions of young girls playing and thousands of families who are involved in the sport—is there something as a player you see that the powers that be can do to capture that interest and grow the game at a more local level?

I'm sure you saw the Golf Digest cover with Paulina Gretzky. A lot of LPGA players were upset about that cover, thinking the publication, and the sport of golf, should focus more on the women who are actually playing.

You have been on both sides of this, as you are clearly one of the best players in the world and you want people to notice you for that, but then you've done the Sports Illustrated swimsuit and body paint thing, so how do you balance that, in promoting the game for the game, but also being a personality in it?

To go along with the books you have co-written, and tours like the one with Coke, you've become not only a spokesperson for the game in America, but really a role model for young girls. What do you say to younger kids when you go and speak to them, not just from a soccer standpoint, but about life and sports and where things are going to be for the next generation?

Again, to learn more about the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, click here.

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