While the U.S. Women’s National Team will be returning to the city where forward Alex Morgan earned her first cap in 2010 and she’ll be playing in the same stadium against the same opponent, one thing guaranteed to be different is the weather.
Most first caps are memorable, but Morgan’s was even more so. She entered the Rio Tinto Stadium pitch at halftime on March 31 in a driving snowstorm to run around in ankle deep snow. For a player born and raised in Southern California, who ventured only a few hundred miles and few degrees lower to northern California for college at the University of California Berkley, it was quite the shock.
It remains the only time she has played in snow.
“I’ve barely even seen a white Christmas, never mind played in snow,” said the Diamond Bar native. “I was standing there waiting to go in telling myself to pretend it was a nice, sunny California day. Then I got on and I didn’t feel my feet or legs, so that changed my outlook real quick.”
Morgan has joined 27 other players in the team’s latest training camp that is large even for WNT standards, but she enjoys a big group.
“I’m excited for the competiveness. Something we get with a larger group is that the coaches focus on certain positions,” she said. “So I think we’ll see the forwards getting pulled together more often and focusing on what we need to do, and the defenders and midfielders as well. But, you also get enough players to field an 11v11 so that’s great training heading into the next few months.”
Of course, the large number of players guarantees intense competition for roster spots on the team that will attempt to qualify for the Women’s World Cup at the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October, but it’s just that environment that pushes the USA to excel.
“I think it’s good to have so many players,” said Morgan. “You get to go up against different types of players and even though we know each other so well, we definitely push each other every day so it’s a situation that makes us better.”
So, when Morgan landed at the Salt Lake City International Airport, she definitely brought some fond memories.
“My first cap in Salt Lake I’ll always remember,” said Morgan. “Looking back, it was a fun game. I’m not so sure it was that fun in the moment, but Mexico gave us a good challenge, and I’m sure they will this time around as well. It’s a great soccer specific stadium with great fans here. We’re looking forward to this game.”
And to a green field, not a white one.