It is official as of Sunday night, the defending Women’s World Cup champions - USA, will be defending their title in the summer of 2019 from France.
Leading the way for USWNT to that potential 4th star on their kit is Cal women’s soccer alum Alex Morgan. With the retirement of scoring machine Abby Wambach and the curtailing of playing time from Carli Lloyd (who is now a late match sub), USWNT is now Alex Morgan’s team. For the 2018 campaign from friendlies to the recent World Cup qualifier that is the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, Morgan has been both the captain of the US squad as well as the top goal scorer to the rate of 1 goal per match.
“Captain” Morgan (not that Alex should get an endorsement from the rum company, particularly after her EPCOT Center adventure an year ago) has now 16 goals in the 16 matches played in 2018. For her USWNT career, Morgan has 96 goals in 150 matches.
After injury and the rise of international women’s soccer level in recent years slowing her scoring rate, the 29-year-old Alex Morgan is now back to a scoring pace that may see her challenge Abby Wambach’s record of 184 goals (in 256 international matches) when Morgan is ready hang up her cleats.
The World Cup will be played in France next year. Alex Morgan spent last year honing her game by playing professionally in France and winning the Women’s Champions League with Olympique Lyonnais - essentially the super team of women’s professional soccer akin to the Golden State Warriors if they also has LeBron James. Morgan certainly have plenty of French fans from her one season there (even if it was prematurely ended by injuries).
In the CONCACAF semifinal against Jamaica on Sunday night, Morgan scored a brace to help USA clinched a spot in the 2019 Women’s World Cup to take place next June from France. USA defeated Jamaica by a 6-0 result.
In a set play, Morgan found the back of the net in traffic for her first goal of the match.
Morgan scored the final goal of the match on a penalty. Some USWNT may remember that she missed a key penalty in the PK part of the loss to Sweden that knocked the USA out of medal contention in the 2016 Rio Olympic games.
That’s not only 16 goals in 16 matches this year for Morgan, but also 23 goals in the last 23 International matches dating back to the end of last year.
USA won their 3rd World Cup in history 4 years ago, but has fallen on a bit of a tough time after being upset in the 2016 Rio Olympics and then struggled for an year as head coach Jill Ellis finds young blood (unfortunately, they hail from UCLA and Stanford rather than Cal) to replenish USWNT. Morgan also missed some time due to injuries. Now that Alex Morgan is back to scoring, there is a high correlation between her scoring goals and USWNT winning...just in time for the 2019 World Cup.
For the USA to triumph in France next year, Alex Morgan will be counted on as the leading scorer for USWNT. USA won their other World Cups in 1991 and 1999 (that famous Brandi Chastain, one time Cal Bears, penalty for the win) in addition to the most recent one in 2015. Morgan will try to lead USWNT to an unprecedented back-to-back World Cup titles.
Before the trip to France, USWNT will next attempt to win this CONCACAF championship when they play Canada in the final on Wednesday. Canada took care of Panama by a 7-0 result in the other semifinal.
GO ALEX! GO BEARS! GO USA!