“My mom was the type who was really loving and supportive and super positive. She’s like, ‘Honey, if you lose, it’s ok,’ whereas my Dad always wanted me to push the limits. He’s like, ‘You’ve got to be the best. No one remembers No. 2,” says Morgan. “I feel really lucky to have gotten to have both viewpoints. I got the best of both worlds.”
Growing up, her mother inspired her, “My mom worked really hard to get her master’s degree. She would work during the day and go to school at night so that she could get a better job and give us a better life.” It wasn’t lost on Morgan. “I realized how supportive my parents were and how much it cost them and I wanted to make them proud for everything they were doing.”
COMPETITION IN THE BLOOD
Morgan was the youngest of three sisters: six years younger than Jenny, four years younger than Jeri. In spite of the significant age gap, Morgan always thought she should be able to keep up. “I’d race them down the street,” says Morgan. “Everything was a competition. Beating someone to us was just so sweet, even if it was just a family member.” She has vivid memories of her father’s “Champion Dance,” which he exhibited whenever he’d beat his daughters in a card game, dancing around the house. “It was the most annoying thing,” laughs Morgan. “I was like, ‘I never want to lose ever again.’ I’m super competitive.”
Nowadays, Morgan still engages in sisterly competition. Her sister, who has taken up Fly Wheel, a spin class that allows you to track your heart rate, will send a text, “We’re so doing this when you get back. I’m going to beat you.” And Morgan will text back. “Not a chance.”
In 2013, Morgan published the first book in the series The Kicks, a collection of chapter books geared toward fourth and sixth graders. They follow Devin, a 12-year-old, who leaves her Connecticut hometown and moves to California, where she has to face stiff competition and start over. The first book in the series, Saving the Team, debuted at number seven on the The New York Times Best Seller list.
Morgan explains her thought process behind writing the books:
“There’s so many unknowns in women’s soccer. There’s a professional league, there’s not a professional league, there is a semi-professional league, there’s a professional league again; there’s a World Cup, there’s the Olympics, then what do you do in the off years? And then maybe there’s a middle school team, but maybe there’s not. Or it’s coed, or it’s not. When do people go into club soccer? When do you stop playing rec? When do you have that balance of friends and soccer? It’s the most-played sport as a kid, and I want to show kids that there are a lot of relatable elements, things we have in common.
“Growing up, there are a lot of questions and confidence roller coasters. And there are times you feel like a tomboy and times you want to dress up. There are times you don’t want to go play soccer, there are times you’d rather go to a movie with a boy. So, I want to relate to kids, to say, ‘This is my experience, and I hope you get something out of it.’”
U.S. National Team: She burst onto the international scene at the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, helping the USA to the championship and scoring the winning goal in the final against Korea DPR … She made her U.S. debut on March 31, 2009 and after scoring 41 goals heading into a match against Germany on April 5, 2012, she had the most goals of any player in U.S. history by the third anniversary of her debut (Abby Wambach had 32 and Natasha Kai had 24) … Heading into 2015, she had scored 49 goals in her first 77 games and was on the verge of becoming the 10th female player in U.S. history to reach 50 career goals.
2015: 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champion... Named to the 2015 U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster, her second World Cup selection... Has appeared in 14 of 17 games for the U.S. so far this year, starting 12.. Got her first career World Cup start in the USA's final group stage game against Nigeria on June 16....Scored the game-winning goal in both the 1-0 victory over England on Feb. 13 and the 3-0 win over Switzerland on March 6 at the Algarve Cup... Her goal against England was the first of the year for the WNT and the 50th of her international career, becoming the 10th WNT player to reach that milestone... Started up top for all four Algarve Cup games, leading the U.S. to its 10th Algarve Cup title... 2014: Spent the first part of the year finishing her recovery from an ankle injury but returned to play in seven matches, starting four, while scoring five goals with four assists before she suffered a different ankle injury in the second match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship that kept her out for the rest of the year… Didn’t play for the USA until two June matches against France, but scored twice in a 2-2 tie and scored three goals in two games vs. Mexico before CONCACAF qualifying … 2013: Missed a few games due to an ankle injury, but still played 811 minutes in 12 games, while starting 10 … Scored six goals with four assists, including the equalizer against Sweden during a 1-1 tie in the final group match of the Algarve Cup that sent the USA to the championship game, where she scored both goals in a 2-0 victory vs. Germany … Also scored in a 3-3 tie with Germany in Offenbach in April and scored twice, both on dynamic breakaways, against Canada during a 3-0 victory in Toronto in early June … Was a finalist for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … Entering 2014, she had scored 44 goals in her first 70 caps … Was the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year, the first time the award has been given out … 2012: Had one of the best scoring years in U.S. history, pounding in 28 goals with 21 assists to lead the team in both categories … Was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year for the first time … Her goal total was the third-best in U.S. history behind only Michelle Akers (39 in 1991) and Abby Wambach (31 in 2004) … Her assist total was tied for second-best in U.S. history behind only Mia Hamm (22 in 2004) and tied with Carin Gabarra (21 in 1991) … Finished third in the voting for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and attended the Gala Awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland … Became a starter for the first time in the fifth game of the year, a 4-0 victory against Canada in the championship of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Vancouver, Canada … She torched Canada with two goals and two assists and would go on to start every game but one the rest of the year … Ended the year with 31 matches played and 27 starts … Started all six games at the 2012 Olympics, her first, playing all but 27 minutes of the tournament … Scored three goals in the Olympics, two against France in the opening match, including the crucial equalizer to make it 2-2, and one of the most dramatic goals in women’s soccer history in the 123rd minute of the semifinal against Canada … The game-winner against Canada at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, was the latest goal ever scored in FIFA history … Her looping header off a cross from Heather O’Reilly came just moments before the final whistle … Also had four assists at the Olympics, which included setting up Abby Wambach goals against North Korea and in the quarterfinal against New Zealand, and the first goal in the Olympic Final to Carli Lloyd … Played in four games at CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, starting just the final, and had four goals and six assists … Her two goals against Canada in Olympic qualifying started a three-game streak in which she scored two goals in each game, which included a last-gasp winner against New Zealand during a 2-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at FC Dallas Stadium … In the third-place match of the Algarve Cup against Sweden in Portugal, she registered her first career hat trick … Had nine multiple-goal games on the year, including her second career hat trick, which came against Ireland in Portland, Ore., as she scored three times in a 21-minute span at the end of the first half … Scored in 18 of her 31 matches … Was named the FOX Soccer Player of the Year for men or women … 2011: Had a breakout performance at the Women’s World Cup, her first at the senior level, when she came off the bench for five of the six games and became, along with Abby Wambach, one of two U.S. players to score in the World Cup semifinal and championship game … Scored the third and game-clinching goal in the 3-1 victory over France in the semifinal and then tallied against Japan in the final to open the scoring … Also had an assist to Wambach in the championship game, becoming the first U.S. player to get a goal and an assist in the World Cup final … Played in 19 total matches, starting just two, but scored six goals with two assists … Scored three goals at the Algarve Cup in Portugal and was given the Top Scorer Award … Named one of 10 players on the short list for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year … 2010: Earned her first career cap on March 31 against Mexico in Salt Lake City, coming on at halftime in a match played on a snow-covered field … Played in eight matches, all off the bench, and scored one of the most important goals in recent U.S. history when she came into the first leg of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Playoff against Italy in Padova on Nov. 20 and scored the winning goal in stoppage time to give the USA a 1-0 victory … Scored her first career goal on Oct. 2 against China in Chester, Pa., tallying the tying goal in the 1-1 draw with seven minutes left … Was the youngest player on the U.S. team at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament where she played in four games and scored two goals against Guatemala and Costa Rica … 2009: Earned her first call-up to the senior side in December …Youth National Teams: Finished her U-20 career with 10 career caps and five goals … Four of those goals came at the 2008 FIFA Women’s World Cup where she won the Silver Ball as the second-best player in the tournament and Bronze Shoe as the third-leading scorer … Scored against France, twice against Argentina and then in the championship game against Korea DPR in the 42nd minute after a slaloming run … Played in four games at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament, scoring one goal against Cuba while picking up three assists … First Appearance: March 31, 2010, vs. Mexico … First Goal: Oct. 2, 2010, vs. China.
Professional / Club – 2014: Missed a few games due to injury, but still played in 14 matches, starting 13, and scored six goals with four assists, which included three game-winning goals … Despite missing games, she was still sixth in the league in shots (56) and third in shots on goal (36) … Helped the Thorns to the playoffs for the second consecutive year …2013: Allocated to Portland Thorns FC for the 2013 NWSL season and played 1,525 minutes in 18 games, all starts, while scoring eight goals with five assists … Her eight goals tied for third in the league in scoring with four other players … She led the NWSL in shots (82) and shots on goal (44) … Helped Portland to a third place finish in the regular season, and while she didn’t play in the semifinal due to an injury, she came on as a substitute in the championship game and assisted on the game-clinching goal in the 2-0 victory vs. the Western New York Flash … Named to the NWSL Second XI … Won the Harry Glickman Award for Female Professional Athlete of the Year at the 2013 Oregon Sports Awards … 2012: Played several matches with the Seattle Sounders in the W-League … 2011: Taken first overall in the 2011 WPS Draft by the Western New York Flash and helped the club to the WPS title in its first year … Played 689 minutes in 13 games for the Flash, starting six, and had four goals (tied for second-most of any WNT player) with three assists … Played 106 minutes of the championship game during the penalty kick win against Philadelphia … Youth Club: Captained the 2006 Cal South ’89 State Team to the U-17 national title … Played club for Cypress Elite from ages 14-18 … Played a few matches at the U-20 level for the San Diego Surf.