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Alex Morgan Isn’t on the USWNT. Here’s Why.

July 5, 2024, by Rohtas Wadera | Courtesy of www.girlssoccernetwork.com



Alex Morgan is an icon, a legend, and a pioneer. The striker has helped take women’s soccer to new heights while carrying the flag as the sport’s most recognizable athlete during its dark ages for many years. It is this reputation to go with her skill set that has seen her be an integral part of the USWNT for the last 14 years. Morgan has set such a high standard for herself and the USWNT that it seems unthinkable she’d be left off the Olympic roster. However, new manager Emma Hayes ultimately decided to do so, citing adaptability as the main reason for not selecting Morgan. While Hayes’ reasoning is valid, the bottom line is that Morgan’s omission was coming, and here’s why. 

 

Youth Movement


Flashback to the last World Cup cycle for the USWNT. While there were a few warning signs about the older generation of players and concerns about the rest of the world catching up, the sentiment was this team would at least be able to make the semifinals or the final. We all know a disaster ensued, and many questioned the roster. The last played from that golden generation–other than Alyssa Naeher, who is incredible–is Alex Morgan. The World Cup showed us the roster needed to get younger, and Emma Hayes immediately identified that based on the Olympic roster. The turnover of younger players replacing the old guard is here now, and Alex Morgan might not suit up for the USWNT in another major tournament again. 

 

Poor Form


If the team getting younger wasn’t enough, Morgan’s poor form for the San Diego Wave didn’t help her cause. In nine appearances this season, Morgan has zero goals and one assist. If she played better or even recorded more assists instead of scoring, you could very well make a case for her inclusion.


Now, after Casey Stoney was sacked and seeing recent news about the allegations of significant toxicitywithin the club, there could be factors behind the scenes that impacted her play. Going from winning the NWSL Shield last year to sitting in tenth place in the standings indicates something is off. It’s not just Morgan; the whole team has been poor, which certainly hurt her chances of making the roster.


Versatility


Here are Emma Hayes’ words, directly from ESPN


“Having a roster that could adapt is essential,” Hayes told reporters Wednesday. “We have a tight turnaround between games, so of course having players on the roster that could play more than one position mattered with squad depth.


“But I also think that there are players on the roster in the forward areas that are performing well and the decision to take those players was one that we certainly deliberated over. But I think it’s a balanced roster. I’ve considered all the factors that we’re going to need throughout the Olympics, and [the roster is] one that I’m really happy with.”


Mallory Swanson, Sophia Smith, and Trinity Rodman are a scary front three, with Crystal Dunn and Jaedyn Shaw in support and Lynn Williams and Croix Bethune as alternates. Because of Alex Morgan’s style of play, she’s not as creative in one-on-one situations as she used to be and needs service in the box to be successful. That requires getting the ball out to the wings more and putting crosses into the box. This style takes away from all the strengths of the USWNT front three: speed, dribbling, quick passing, and finishing. The front three need space to run free, and Alex Morgan restricts that significantly. 


It might seem surprising at first that Alex Morgan was left off the Olympic roster. But after a closer look, it appears to be the right call in more ways than one. 


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