Alex's Favorite Goal
Alex Morgan has yet to score in 2013. Of course, she’s played only 40 minutes. And considering she averaged a goal every 82 minutes she was on the field in 2012, she’s likely to open her 2013 account at the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
Morgan’s 28 goals last year were the third-most in a calendar year for any U.S. player in history, and at age 23 she was the youngest to reach those lofty scoring heights.
A variety of spectacular, dramatic and clinical goals were all part of her 2012 haul. Some were purely the product of hard work and huge heart, and others came from sublime skill. Almost all were finished with a ruthless authority.
Every soccer fan knows she scored one of the most famous goals in U.S. history when she tallied in the 123rd minute of the Olympic semifinal to give the USA a historic 4-3 victory and berth to the gold medal game.
That last-second looping header while under duress from a defender is a goal many fans will pinpoint as encompassing all the qualities one would want in the “best goal of the year,” but the speedy striker says there was another that was actually her personal favorite.
It came early in the game against Japan in Halmstad, Sweden, on June 18.
The match marked the third meeting between the teams since the heart-wrenching 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.
“The goal against Japan in Sweden was my favorite goal of last year because we had lost to them at the Algarve Cup, which was our first loss of the year, and then we tied them in Japan, so we had gone three games without beating them,” said Morgan. “We were feeling strong heading into that game, we had a game plan and we stuck to it and everyone played great.”
Her goal on the cusp of the third minute shocked the Japanese and set the tone for the rest of the match, which would end 4-1 and was so much in the USA’s control that the Americans switched to a 3-4-3 at the end of the game just to practice the formation.
The goal originated off a long kick from U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo that was flicked on from the head of Abby Wambach to Tobin Heath. The skillful midfielder collected and then played a perfectly weighted pass through to Morgan into the left side of the penalty area. Her first touch took away a bit of her shooting angle, but it didn’t matter when she smashed a left-footed screamer over Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori to stretch the net from 10 yards out.
“It felt really good to get that revenge because we were feeling defeated after the last couple of games against them,” said Morgan. “The moment was about the type of goal but also the meaning of the goal.”
“The goal itself was important to me because I don’t actually finish a lot of chances like that. I finish a lot inside the six-yard box and tap-ins and such, so the fact that I ran onto the ball and hit it first-time from not such a great angle with a lot of pace was really satisfying. And the fact that the ‘keeper didn’t react until the ball was in the back of the goal made it that much sweeter.”
Which goal will be Morgan’s favorite of 2013? Well, that remains to be seen, but suffice it to say that she wants to have plenty of options to choose from.