THE ISLAND INFLUENCE
Morgan Brian grew up on St. Simon’s Island, a tiny barrier island off the coast of Georgia, three miles wide, 11 miles long, with a huge soccer culture. “Everybody played,” says Morgan.
In spite of the soccer culture, the tiny island population meant there just weren’t enough players, so Morgan played up four or five years. “I was nine; we were playing with kids that were 14. I hadn’t grown yet.” Her tiny size earned her the nickname ‘Plankton;’ the character from her then favorite show, SpongeBob SquarePants. “He’s the evil one, but I like to think they just called me that because I was small…but, well, I was really competitive, and I guess I’d get mad at people…so,” Morgan laughs, “maybe that was a part of it.” Even though she’s now taller than most of her friends, they still to this day call her ‘Plankton.’
Eventually Morgan got to the age where she had to go play for a club team off the island. Everyone on the island played club with teams that were far away, making the long car rides a couple times a week, playing pickup with the other island kids the rest of the time.
Her entire club team tried out for the Florida State ODP team (which St. Simon’s Island fed into). Florida had an ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C’ team, so every player on her team made at least one of those rosters – except for Brian.
“My club coach was like, ‘You can either pout about it or use it as motivation,” says Morgan. “And in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.” Morgan started training constantly and devoted all her time to playing. The next year she made the ‘A’ roster state team, and then she made the regional team, and then she made the National Team. “I couldn’t believe it,” says Brian.
Morgan’s coach had his players each fill out a goal sheet, what they wanted to work on now, and what they wanted long term. “I think I wrote the least-aspirational goals on the team; they were just not very lofty because ever since I didn’t make that ODP team, I just didn’t think I was very good,” says Brian.
One of her goals was “start for my club team”; Morgan’s coach pulled her aside and said, “What are you doing? You should put, be on the Women’s National Team.” And Brian was like, ‘You’re a psycho. That’s not within reach.’ He made me put it and I just wrote it off to the side and I looked at him and said, ‘You’re crazy.’
The 22-year-old is now the youngest member of the Women’s National Team headed to this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Canada.
Full name is Morgan Paige Brian … Nickname is Moe or Miss M or Bean … Majoring in kinesiology … A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Played varsity basketball as an eighth-grader, freshman, sophomore and senior, earning team MVP every year as well as the Coach’s Award and All-Region and All-State recognition … Enjoys playing Ping-Pong, basketball, going to the beach and watching movies … Also loves to spend time with friends and family, and sleep … Enjoys attending church … Her sister played soccer for Division II Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga., and then earned her Master’s at Hawaii Pacific and lives in Hawaii now … Favorite foods are pineapple gratin and peanut butter pie … Favorite candy is Warheads, the extreme sour hard candies, or anything sour in general, but is not a fan of spicy foods.
A rising star in central midfield for the WNT, Brian has shown the tremendous skill and savvy that made her one of the USA’s best Youth National Team players of the recent generation and she had a breakout tournament at the 2015 Women’s World Cup … 2015: The youngest member of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup champions at 22, she played in her first WWC at the senior level, seeing action in all six games of the tournament while starting four, including the final three matches ... Made her first World Cup start against Sweden on June 12, 2015 ... Had two assists on the year, including the pass that set up Tobin Heath’s clinching goal in the World Cup Final that made the final score 5-2 … Played in 24 matches, starting 19, over 1,663 minutes ... Scored her one goal of 2015 during a 4-0 win against New Zealand in St. Louis … Helped the USA to its 10th Algarve Cup title in Portugal … 2014: Earned 16 caps to the National Team while also leading her college team at UVA to the NCAA championship game … Was named the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year … Played in every international tournament in which the WNT participated in 2014, including the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship where she helped the USA qualify for the 2015 Women’s World Cup … Played in three games during qualifying, starting one, and scored one goal with one assist … 2013: Earned first three senior team caps in 2013 as the youngest player on the WNT … Her first call-up to the full National Team came during the USA’s June friendlies against the Korea Republic … She earned her first cap on June 15 against Korea, entering the game in the 77th minute for Lauren Cheney at Foxboro Stadium … Scored her first goal in her second cap, finishing the scoring in a 7-0 victory vs. Mexico at RFK Stadium … Youth National Teams: Most recently played with the U.S. Under-23 WNT in 2013 … A key member of the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan … Started all six games in the tournament and played all but 18 minutes … She scored the first goal in the 2-0 victory vs. Nigeria in the semifinal … Finished her U-20 career with 21 caps and four goals … A member of the team that won the 2012 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship to earned a berth to Japan … Played in four games in qualifying and totaled 337 minutes … Had one goal and one assist during qualifying, scoring in the 4-0 semifinal victory over Mexico that earned the USA its berth to the Women’s World Cup … Scored a goal against Switzerland in La Manga, Spain in February of 2012 … The youngest player named to the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup roster, she played in one match against Paraguay, going all 90 minutes as a defender… She was also the youngest player on the CONCACAF Qualifying team, seeing action in three matches and scoring against El Salvador … Captained the U.S. U-17 team during the 2009-10 cycle and had seven goals at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament as the USA out-scored its opponents 38-0 but failed to qualify for the U-17 Women’s World Cup after falling in a penalty kick shootout during the semifinal … Finished her U-17 international career with 22 caps and 15 goals … Called up from the U.S. U-15s to the U-17s in 2008 … Participated in the U.S. Soccer Under-14 I.D. Camp in 2007 and played some matches with the U-14s that year as well. First cap: June 15, 2012, vs. Korea Republic. First goal: Sept. 3, 2013 vs. Mexico.
2015: Taken #1 overall by the Houston Dash in the 2015 NWSL Draft … Started 10 games for the Dash during her rookie year while playing 810 minutes and picking up three assists … Youth club: Played for the Ponte Vedra Storm from U-12 to U-19 … Won state championships at the U-18 and U-17 levels with the Storm and was the national runner-up as U-17s … Storm won the U-19 national title in the summer of 2012.