Diamond Bar alumna shines silver on the brightest stage amid fourth U.S. victory

Coming in as the defending FIFA World Cup champions, the U.S. women’s national soccer team swept through the tournament without a loss, defeating Netherlands 2-0 in the final match to capture their fourth title in the competition’s history. 

While the loss to Sweden in the 2016 Olympics still loomed over the Americans, they seemed to be unfazed by this failure, scoring 26 goals throughout the championship run. Alex Morgan, co-captain of the U.S. team and Diamond Bar High School 2007 alumna, contributed to this feat by finishing as the joint-top goal scorer in the tournament, scoring six and earning the prestigious Silver Boot award. 

Entering her third World Cup at the age of 29, Morgan was one of the more seasoned players on the roster, having nearly 160 appearances throughout her 10-year international career. During her six starts in France, the DB alumna played the center-forward role, a position that allows her playmaking abilities to shine.

Her immediate impact was demonstrated in the Americans’ first group-stage game, having a historic five-goal outing against Thailand in June. Compared to past years, Morgan looked comfortable blowing by defenders with elusive dribbling skills and striking balls into the back of the net, leaving goalkeepers helpless. 

In addition to her scoring, she passed through-balls inside the box, attempting to create more goal-scoring chances for her teammates. The star forward accurately placed passes between the legs of defenders and find other Americans to have their shots on goal, distributing three assists throughout the game as well. 

Toward late June in the knockout stages, the co-captain made timely runs into the box, increasing pressure on the opposing goalkeepers and creating potential goal-scoring plays. At times, she received assists from crosses that were played in from the wings of the pitch, heading balls through the goal in one-on-one coverage.

This was shown in the Americans’ semifinal match against England, as Morgan easily headed her sixth goal of the tournament by tracking down a pass played by midfielder Lindsay Horan. The score proved to be decisive in the dying minutes of the match, as the United States moved on to the final with a 2-1 victory. 

Morgan’s  contribution continued in the final against the European Champion Netherlands, held in Lyon, France, as she continued to add pressure to the opposing defensive line. 

In the 61st minute, Morgan cut into the box and earned a penalty kick against a Dutch defender after winning a ball that ricocheted off of multiple players. Teammate Megan Rapinoe proceeded to score the penalty and break the stalemate, subsiding the momentum of the Netherlands and sealing the match.

Although Morgan turned 30 last week, not young in the world of competitive soccer,  she has shown no signs of fatigue in her superstar play. Although the next World Cup in four years is to be likely her last, the DBHS grad can maintain, if not bolster, the excellence of U.S. Women’s Soccer.