Alex Morgan is in the business of scoring goals. And business is booming.
In her last 18 games playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Morgan has scored 17 times. They’ve come in a multitude of ways – from the penalty spot, headers, blistering drives and breakaways. She’s scored game-winners and braces, and against Japan on July 26 at the 2018 Tournament of Nations, she bagged a hat trick. It was the fourth of her career.
She’s been scoring for the USA since 2010, and since scoring goals is perhaps the most difficult part of the game, there have been periods of great form and a few dry spells. But the past year has been impressive even by the high standards we’ve come to expect from the 29-year-old.
It’s always been clear that when Morgan is in the zone, opposing defenses are in for a long night.
This 18-game run – in which the USA has not lost -- began in the latter half of 2017 after she returned from her six-month stint at Olympique Lyonnais, lasted through the final seven games of 2017, then continued into the first 11 games of 2018.
The current streak began in the final game of the 2017 Tournament of Nations and now almost a year later, she’s still on a roll. She closed 2017 with seven goals in seven games (which made her the team’s top scorer for the year) and has a team-leading 10 goals in 11 games in 2018.
In a span of a few months, Morgan has put herself within striking distance of 100 goals. Currently at 90, she would become the seventh woman in U.S. history to reach the century mark and join a highly exclusive club which features Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers, Tiffeny Milbrett and Carli Lloyd. Even more impressively, she is on pace to achieve this feat in less caps (currently at 143 after the Japan game on July 26) than four of those six legends (Wambach and Akers scored goal No. 100 in their 129th cap; Hamm scored in her 155th cap) and could become the third youngest player in WNT history to reach 100. Wambach scored her 100th goal just after her 29th birthday and Hamm reached 100 when she was 26-and-a-half-years old.
Morgan’s first WNT goal came on Oct. 2, 2010 against China PR. She played in eight games that year and scored four goals. She followed that up with six goals in 2011 and had a breakthrough performance at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
In 2012, Morgan had one of the best scoring years in U.S. history, tallying a remarkable 28 goals with 21 assists to lead the team in both categories. Her goal total was the third-best in U.S. history behind only Michelle Akers (39 in 1991) and Wambach (31 in 2004) and her assist total was tied for second-best in U.S. history behind only Hamm (22 in 2004) and tied with Carin Gabarra (21 in 1991). She also helped the USA to the gold medal at the London Olympics, scoring the epic 123rdminute game-winner in the semifinal final that is still the latest goal in FIFA history, and earned personal recognition when she finished third for the FIFA Player of the Year award and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for the first time.
The next two years for Morgan were unfortunately plagued by injuries. In 2013, she missed a few games but still played 811 minutes in 12 games and scored six goals with four assists. She spent much of 2014 finishing her recovery but returned to play in seven matches, starting four, while scoring five goals with four assists before she suffered an ankle injury in the second match of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship that kept her out for the rest of the year.
She rounded into shape just in time to participate in her second World Cup at the senior level and she was a key member of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions. She came off the bench in the first two games as she regained her fitness, but then got the start in the final group game against Nigeria and started all four knock-out round games. She played in 22 of the USA’s 26 games that year and scored seven goals. She got back to her old self in 2016 when she found the net 17 times, including what was probably the best goal of the year on March 9 against Germany in the SheBelieves Cup.
Her 2017-18 has been even more impressive, and not just because of her scoring rate, but because the goals are coming against elite talent at a time when the level of play worldwide is increasingly competitive.
There’s still a lot of 2018 left to play, including the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship in October where the USA will look to book its trip to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. And while the U.S. Women know that nothing is given and everything is earned, with Morgan in her current form, fans are surely looking forward to an entertaining few months ahead.Read more