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Cal Bears in 2015 Women's World Cup Preview and USA-Australia Gamethread

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In case you have not seen any sports magazine covers in the last couple of weeks, Cal alum and soccer superstar Alex Morgan is everywhere as the expected star of the 2015 Women's World Cup.

USWNT (and possibly Alex Morgan, who is recovering from an injury) opens World Cup play today at 4:30 PM PT against Australia.
USWNT (and possibly Alex Morgan, who is recovering from an injury) opens World Cup play today at 4:30 PM PT against Australia.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The journey for Team USA begins today to recapture the Women's World Cup, for the first time since 1999, when it was hosted in the US. This year, the Women's World Cup is taking place in Canada. Canada is basically like the US, eh?

Two former Golden Bears will be partaking in the Women's World Cup: Alex Morgan for United State and Betsy Hassett for New Zealand

From the official CalBears.com release:

Forward Morgan and the U.S. are chasing after their first World Cup title since 1999. The women finished second behind Japan in 2011, losing in penalty kicks. Morgan came off the bench for five on the six games, scoring the game-clinching goal in a 3-1 victory over France in the semifinal and then opening the U.S. scoring in the final against Japan. She also tallied an assist in the championship game, becoming the first U.S. player to notch a goal and assist in the World Cup final. Morgan made her Senior National Team debut on March 31, 2009, and has racked up 51 goals in 84 caps, including 51 starts.

While at Cal, Morgan appeared in 67 matches with 61 starts. Despite missing numerous games due to her time with the national team, Morgan finished her Golden Bear career with 45 goals and 107 points, marks that are tied for third all-time in Cal history. She notched 17 assists. Her five collegiate hat tricks are the most of any Cal player, and along with All-Pac-10 honors in 2010 and 2009, Morgan was an NSCAA All-American in 2010 and finalist for the prestigious Hermann Trophy despite only playing 12 matches during her senior season.

Hassett, a midfielder, has 75 caps with New Zealand’s Football Ferns. Like Morgan, she was widely utilized in the 2011 World Cup, seeing time in all three games before New Zealand failed to advance out of group play. Hassett was also a crucial member of the 2012 Olympic squad, which became the first New Zealand team to advance to the second round of a major FIFA tournament. Hassett started three games and appeared in all four matches in London.She’s tallied eight goals since her senior debut on June 16, 2008.

The Kiwi was a two-time All-Pac-12 selection at Cal, earning first team honors in 2012 and second team honors in 2011. She was also selected to the 2011 NSCAA All-Region Second Team. Hassett scored seven goals and tallied eight assists for 22 career points.

The two former Bears will each play a huge role on their respective squads in these next months. Both Morgan and Hassett had huge roles for their respective countries in the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics. You can find the CGB profile on Hassett from the 2012 Olympic Games here.

When not with their national teams, Alex Morgan plays for the Portland Thorns (who unfortunately wears a red kit) while Betsy Hassett now plays for the female football team of Manchester City.

Here are the full schedule for when you can catch Morgan and Hassett in action.

U.S. Group D Schedule (all times listed PT)

Monday, June 8:
United States v. Australia (4:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1)

Friday, June 12:
United States v. Sweden (5 p.m., FOX)

Tuesday, June 16:
Nigeria v. United States (5 p.m., FOX)

New Zealand Group A Schedule

Saturday, June 6:
New Zealand v. Netherlands (3 p.m., FOX Sports 2)

Thursday, June 11:
Canada v. New Zealand (6 p.m., FOX Sports 1)

Monday, June 15:
China v. New Zealand (4:30 p.m., FOX Sports 2)

Alex Morgan and the US women came ever so close to winning the last World Cup, only to lose to Japan in a pretty incredible final.

With 51 goals in 84 appearances, and most of those early ones were as a sub, Alex Morgan has been on a pace to shatter the most goals scored record by a female footballer, currently hold up the still active Abbey Wambach. Without a doubt, Morgan is already the face of the team right now. She has graced the cover of both Sports Illustrated and also ESPN the Magazine in recent weeks.

There are tons of articles about Alex Morgan, painting her as more relatable than just a pretty face that is pushing Cokes and other products. Check out this feature on ESPN The Magazine by Janet Reitman that both called her "the Taylor Swift of women's sports" but also has stories like the following:

But her insecurities and baggage haven't been entirely packed away, as she says. During her freshman year at UC Berkeley, for instance, Morgan fell so hard for Carrasco, then a handsome midfielder for the men's soccer team, that, as her sister and mom recall, she dyed her normally dirty-blond hair brown in a not-so-subtle appeal to Carrasco's taste for brunettes. Then there was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, or rather its aftermath. For as much as Morgan says it built self-esteem, posing in a bikini garnered her attention, and not always the positive sort. In addition to Twitter stalkers (one of whom threatened to kill her, which led to her hiring security), there are also the trolls, some of whose comments were so cutting, her sister says, that Morgan pondered getting breast implants. "People were saying she looked like a 13-year-old boy," Jeri says. "People on the Internet can be really mean."

Alex Morgan is of course, no stranger to being featured in Sports Illustrated, both the regular issues and twice in the Swim Suit edition.

And now you can play as Alex Morgan in FIFA '16! Does anyone know if FIFA '16 is a part of an eSport competition?

There are of course tons of videos on Alex Morgan on the web.

Some highlights of her best goals:

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately given it was during the lull between the Olympics and the World Cup), Alex Morgan has suffered two lingering injuries, the most recent one is a bone bruise on her left knee. Report is that she is close to being 100% for tonight's match. However, it will not be shocking to see Morgan left on the bench and possibly not even used as a sub if the US is up big late.

I will expect US head coach Jill Ellis to ease Morgan back, since she has only recently returned to practice, but should before long, Alex Morgan will likely back to be a featured player on the US attack.

I'll close with a new Nationwide Ad feature Alex Morgan and her now signature pink headband.

GO BEARS!