FRISCO, Texas — Alex Morgan stood in front of cameras and reporters and answered all kinds of questions like she always does after games. A throng of adoring fans — mostly young girls — screamed and cheered with the hope she would walk by and maybe stop for a photo. The superstar forward had scored the opening goal for the U.S. women’s national team in its 2-1 win over Brazil on Wednesday night at Toyota Stadium, which pushed the Americans’ 2023 record to 5-0 and earned them a sixth SheBelieves Cup trophy.
But this night was extra significant for Morgan, as her goal seconds before halftime made her the all-time scoring leader as a mom in USWNT history.
Morgan, who gave birth to her daughter Charlie in 2020, is the 13th mother to play for the U.S. and the eighth to score as one. Joy Fawcette, a member of the famous 1999 World Cup team, held the previous record with 13 goals. Other members of this exclusive club include Danielle Fotopoulos (5), Amy Rodriguez (4), Jessica McDonald (2), Kate Markgraf (1), Kristine Lilly (1) and Tina Ellertson (1).
Morgan now stands atop the leaderboard and more goals are sure to come at this summer’s World Cup.
And as Morgan talked about her goal and the game, Charlie, who will turn 3 this year, sat at her feet and played with a styrofoam cup. She had a snack in there, which she finished while Morgan was speaking with the media, and proceeded to entertain herself while ripping the thing into little pieces, leaving a U.S. Soccer press officer to pick them up.
“Look at her right now,” Megan Rapinoe said, pointing at her teammate. “She’s doing media and being a mother, and it’s just really amazing to see. I just marvel at all three of the moms on the team and just what they’re able to do. I can’t even imagine. It’s really just incredible.
“To be able to do what she’s doing on the field and have a child and have it all, it’s just insane.”
Morgan has made it her mission to bring Charlie to every camp and game she can. She posts pictures of the two of them sitting on the team bus, getting coffee together the mornings before games, and holding hands or dancing together on the field after the final whistle.
She’s certainly not the first soccer mom to bring her kids to a national team camp — U.S. players have been doing that for years. She’s also not the only mom on the team right now as Crystal Dunn and Adrianna Franch also had their babies with them during the SheBelieves Cup. It’s important to all of them to have their kids on the road, watching mom work, and “just being around strong women,” Morgan recently told FOX Sports.
When Morgan was honored for earning her 200th cap before the U.S. played Canada in Orlando last week, Charlie was part of the ceremony and handed her mom a rose while wearing a USWNT jersey with the number 200 on it and “Mom” on the back. After each game, Morgan brought Charlie onto the field and let her run around, dribble a soccer ball and take it all in. She’d cling to Morgan in the mixed zone, probably unsure why there were so many unfamiliar faces, phones and cameras trying to get her mom’s attention. Every now and then, she’d pipe in with a couple postgame comments of her own.
“Hopefully one day she’ll understand it and look back and see photos of herself running on the field and realize that’s not normal at all,” Morgan said Wednesday. That was before Charlie interjected and said, “Mama, I had so much fun!”
“She said she’s having so much fun,” Morgan repeated. “So I guess she understands a little bit.”
Morgan played in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which was a little more than a year after she gave birth. But after the Games, she was left off the USWNT roster for eight months. While there were questions about when she might return, the time away gave Morgan a chance to reset and refocus. She knew she wouldn’t make a roster simply because of her experience and stardom. She had to work for it like everybody else.
“Your spot here is never guaranteed,” Morgan said. “So it’s always a challenge, and it’s making sure that I do everything I can to be in New Zealand.”
Morgan has arguably come back better than ever. She earned her starting spot back on the national team and won the NWSL’s 2022 Golden Boot, scoring 15 goals in 17 games for the San Diego Wave. It was the most goals she’d ever scored in a single season.
Now she’s in top form when the U.S. will need her most, heading into a World Cup. The Americans hope to make history this summer by winning three titles in a row.
“Honestly, it’s very inspiring,” said Mallory Swanson, who scored her seventh goal in five games on Wednesday and indirectly had the assist on Morgan’s goal. “Obviously I knew Al and looked up to her before she had Charlie, but seeing her as a mother and what motherhood brings, you can just see it and she’s a completely different person.
“I think it’s super inspiring that not only off the field she’s a great mom, but on the field she’s still able to do what she has always done and score goals and basically be Alex Morgan.”
Morgan’s goal came in stoppage time in the first half. Swanson’s shot was blocked, but Morgan collected the rebound and ripped off a shot from the top of the box with her left foot into the back of the net. Morgan nearly had a goal a few minutes before that, nutmegging Brazilian goalkeeper Lorena, but it was ruled offside.
“Coaching Alex now for three years, all I can say is she’s a true winner,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “She’s a great leader, and she always comes through when you need her as a player but also as a mom. It’s very inspiring for a lot of females that want to have kids and want to come back and play. Obviously she’s not the first one, but for her to model that and continue doing that is great.
“And last thing, we enjoy having Charlie and all the other [kids] in the [USWNT] environment. It certainly gets busy at times, but it’s fun.”
Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in spring 2022 to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @LakenLitman.
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