Alex Morgan Injury Update: Latest News Before USA's 2015 World Cup Run

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2015

Apr 4, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; United States forward Alex Morgan (13) looks on during the first half against New Zealand at Busch Stadium. United States defeated New Zealand 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the United States' World Cup opener against Australia on Monday, all eyes will be on star forward Alex Morgan and her availability after she was shut down in April with a bone bruise in her knee. All indications leading up to the game were that Morgan should be able to play. 

Jeff Carlisle of ESPNW has more:

According to a team representative, Morgan trained fully with the U.S. team Saturday. She was shut down in April due to a lingering bone bruise in her left knee.

The assembled press was able to view only the first 15 minutes of Saturday's practice, and while Morgan did have some orthopedic tape on her knee, she appeared to be moving freely and without any discomfort as she participated in drills with her teammates, which included work with the ball.

USWNT coach Jill Ellis discussed Morgan on Sunday, "Alex has been back in training, fully. So, you know, I think she’s available. Obviously we’re going to look at what our needs are, but I’m just excited now that she is back in 100 percent training—looking great, sharp," per Jeff Kassouf of ProSoccerTalk.com.

Heading into the match against Australia, it certainly seems that Morgan will be good to go. 

In a less competitive group, the United States could have potentially played things cautiously with Morgan, especially given the less forgiving conditions of the artificial turf being used at the World Cup in Canada. But in a group with both Australia and Sweden, the USWNT find themselves in an all-hands-on-deck situation.

The star forward is at least prepared to deal with the surface.

"You need to put on compression shorts or leggings, or you need to put Vaseline on your knees because you are going to get turf burns," Morgan told Paul Vercammen and Michael Martinez of CNN. "The ball bounces very different. You are going to be a little more cautious with your tackles, because your legs are going to get beat up."

One would guess the coaching staff might advise Morgan against sliding about the turf willy-nilly in Canada. As a forward, winning the ball back and leaving her feet to make tackles isn't her top priority. 

Morgan's job will be to make her pacey and dangerous diagonal runs to get behind the opponent's defense, where she can absolutely take over a game with her touch and top-notch finishing. Where Abby Wambach gives the United States a dangerous target in the air, Morgan can split a defense with her pace and forces opposing teams to think twice before venturing too far forward, lest she hurt them on the counter.

And when Morgan is on her game, well, the United States are very tough to beat. 

Even if Ellis decides against starting Morgan in the opening game—or playing her for a full 90 minutes—she'll play a huge part in the USWNT's quest to win the World Cup in Canada. She may be a little rusty, given her lack of game time recently, but expect Morgan to make a major impact before the tournament is said and done.

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