The sounds are much like what you would hear in any household across America right now. Mom is busy on a video call, via Zoom, and kiddo is making a ruckus in the background, hoping to get a little of mom’s attention.
The only difference is that “mom” is none other than US Soccer and Orlando Pride star Alex Morgan.
As a player, Morgan is nothing less than a legend in soccer and an inspiration to girls nationwide who love the game. Morgan, who is also one of the USA’s top five all-time leading goal scorers was a crucial player in both of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2015 and 2019 World Cup title victories. Since she joined the USA senior team in 2010, Morgan has scored 114 goals for her country.
Since Morgan’s last six-goal World Cup performance, she and her husband, fellow soccer player Servando Carrasco, welcomed their first child, a daughter named Charlie, in May 2020. Morgan says that raising a daughter who is right on the cusp of her “terrible twos” has been wonderful and demanding at the same time.
“Being a parent to a little girl definitely gives me a greater appreciation for my own parents,” Morgan said, with a slight laugh. She adds that just like for any fairly new mother, balancing it all is challenging.
“It’s been a completely new chapter in my life.” Morgan also says that, “as a mother, I want to instill confidence in her, and help her enjoy life.”
Anyone who’s watched Morgan on the pitch over her career would describe her as nothing less than dominant.
When I asked Morgan about her hundred-plus international goals, including the five she netted in the 13-0 demolition of Thailand during the 2019 World Cup opener, she said that her cool demeanor out on the field may be a little deceptive, especially to opponents.
“I wouldn’t say I’m always as calm as fans might see. But throughout each game, I do try not to let my past play, or bad touches, effect the next game I’m playing.”
VIDEO: Morgan and Charlie do a ‘Take your daughter to training’ day.
Morgan also said that every competition, whether it’s a World Cup or an Olympic tournament, is unpredictable and each a mixed bag.
“I look at the ’19 World Cup and there were times I was just able to get the ball past and behind the defense a little more. Sometimes there were tougher opponents like Spain, who were aggressive with their center backs, and so I had to work harder to try to hold the ball up.”
In other games, Morgan said that support from the players behind her, such as midfielder Julie Ertz or superstar Megan Rapinoe, who floats between midfield and the front line, helped her play a “more fluid” game, especially against offensively focused rivals like France.
But Morgan also concedes that during the recent Summer Olympics, this past July, that her USWNT squad was challenged like never before.
After being routed 3-0 in the Olympics’ opening match against Sweden, Morgan eventually found the back of the net, scoring one goal in the USA’s 6-1 defeat of New Zealand. After entering the knockout stage of tournament, the U.S. Women beat the Netherlands on penalties and advanced to the semifinals, but lost 1-0 to Canada. Eventually the USWNT took the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“Honestly, every game and its outcome depends on the opponent, the formation you run, and the opportunities there,” Morgan said.
Promoting health, soccer part of Morgan’s ‘long game’
Four year ago, Morgan took up a diet that she describes as “primarily plant-based,” doing so “mainly for ethical reasons.” The 32-year-old forward adds that, “it was one of the best changes in my life.”
“I felt better, and had more energy. Both in general and for soccer, it’s had a positive effect, for everything.” Morgan said that moving away from a typical American diet, even a fairy healthy one, has paid huge dividends career-wise and added to her longevity and effectiveness as a soccer player. “My recovery, especially after hard game days, was originally 48 to 72 hours. After going plant-based, it decreased closer to 24 hours.”
Likewise, when it comes to her daughter, Morgan says that she and her husband are trying to get things off to a good start.
“I try to make sure she gets what we eat, putting in place good habits, and not just giving her what kids are typically given. Often, if you go out to a restaurant, a lot of the kids’ menu is fried food, fried food, and more fried food filled with cheese.”
Morgan mentions that one of her long-time sponsors, plant-based snack maker GoGo squeeZ, has been instrumental in promoting healthy habits among kids, both with regard to eating and keeping active.
It’s why Morgan has joined up with GoGo squeeZ to launch “Fun Comes First,” a program whose mission is to promote youth sports participation by empowering parents, teachers, and coaches through sports education.
“I think in the U.S. we’ve altered the idea of soccer,” Morgan said, “making it something where you have to pay to play. And I don’t think that’s right.”
Morgan adds that the pandemic has also been tough on youth sports participation, on top of the fact that prior to high school, girls tend to drop out of sports programs much more than boys.
“Ages 8 to 14 is where you see a drop-out of girls in sports. Whether it’s (because of) societal pressures or not feeling as supported in sports as boys might be, I still think it’s important to encourage girls to stay in sports—especially if they love it and if they are having fun.”
As part of Fun Comes First, GoGo squeeZ and a nonprofit foundation called Laureus Sport for Good USA have published a free resource called the Fun Comes First Playbook, a shareable resource that offers tips, case studies and expert recommendations on ways to foster positive youth development. The playbook is set to come out in mid-October and will be available for download from GoGo squeeZ’s website.
In addition to the Fun Comes First Playbook, there’s a documentary style video starring Morgan and her dad, in which the two share memories from her experience growing up in soccer.
Morgan has also enlisted fellow players and famous soccer moms Sydney Leroux as well as Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, to talk up youth sports during the Aspen Institute’s upcoming Project Play Summit, October 19 and 20.
“One of the biggest keys to promoting sport is accessibility,” Morgan said. “Soccer shouldn’t be a wealthy person’s sport. All you need is a ball and a surface.”
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