The U.S. women's soccer team's redemption match is less than forty-eight hours away, and like the rest of her U.S. teammates, Alex Morgan knows that Thursday's Olympic gold medal final against Japan is a defining moment for U.S. women's soccer.
Unable to score a goal since Team USA's opening match against France, Morgan, in Monday's match against a tough Canada squad, scored the winning header to send the U.S. into the highly anticipated final. Morgan finally had her moment on the international stage that now makes her one of the most popular soccer players in the world; it made her a household name. And this is just the start of a wildly successful career for the 23-year-old.
I can easily see Morgan being the face of U.S. woman's soccer for the next decade. Her number 13 jerseys will be worn by young girls who love the sport of soccer for years; and from profiles and interviews, Morgan seems like the type of young athlete that young girls should look up to.
I'm not gung ho over athletes being role models - it's probably the only thing I take sides on with Charles Barkley - but Morgan seems like a very talented, hard working young woman. Sometimes it's good for young people to have someone they can look up to; it's totally healthy, and anyone who says there's something wrong with a young person looking up to an athlete as a role model is probably someone who never had one. Morgan seems like she would embrace any positive role to be an ambassador of the sport of soccer.
You can tell when she plays and in interviews that Morgan loves the game. Just watch her when she's driving down the pitch with the ball or playing defense, she never gives up trying to take the ball away. Wherever the ball goes on the pitch, she's usually less than a couple of yards away from it. Her ability to get open when it seems like a defender's guarding her like white on rice is something every young soccer player should watch and take notes on.
Other than Abby Wambach, is there any other player on the U.S. team that you'd want on your side if you were to run into some unsavory guys in a dark alley than Morgan? She's tough, and when she gets knocked to the ground she doesn't whine and give the officials a pitiful look with her arms extended. She brushes the grass off and goes back to work. She usually gets even with her defenders by scoring goals in the waning minutes of matches.
During her interview with NBC Sports, after the win over Canada, Morgan was hysterically happy after her incredible header. With her big, authentic smile and tears in her eyes, in a state of awe, I actually said to my television, "I've seen the future of women's soccer."
I usually refrain from talking to my television.
Note: I've been an Arsenal fan for nearly a decade. My cousin got me interested in the club at a young age.