June 9, 2015
By Michael Lewis
A TALE OF TWO MORGANS
... while Alex Morgan savors playing for the 1st time in 66 days
Big Apple Soccer Editor
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Lost in the excitement of Megan Rapinoe connecting for the insurance score late in the United States' 3-1 triumph over Australia in the Women's World Cup opener was a late substitution.
|Alex Morgan: "It's been a while. So it's just a kind of a sigh of relief for me to be back on the field. It doesn't matter how long it was. Glad I got on the pitch."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Barely a minute after the 78th-minute goal, striker Alex Morgan came on for Sydney Leroux.
Morgan did not score, but the fact she had returned from a bruised left knee that had kept her sidelined for 66 days had to be considered a significant accomplishment for such a player considered vital to the Americans’ success here. Morgan has scored 51 goals in 85 appearances, an outstanding strike rate at the international level.
If Morgan continues to make progress and find her match fitness, the 25-year-old lethal striker could become a factor when push really comes to shove in the knockout round.
For now, Morgan was just happy about returning to the fold and to the field.
The last time Morgan played in a competitive match was April 4, when the USA recorded a 4-0 victory over New Zealand in St. Louis.
"It felt good," she said after Monday's match in the mixed zone underneath Winnipeg Stadium. "It's been a while. So it's just a kind of a sigh of relief for me to be back on the field. It doesn't matter how long it was. Glad I got on the pitch."
Moreover, there were no problems at all. It was a pain-free experience.
"My knee felt good. I had no pain whatsoever," Morgan said. "Obviously I was a little tired with the pressure we were putting on Australia and trying to keep possession and keep that 3-1 lead at the end of the game. When I came in there was no pain whatsoever, which made me feel good."
Midfielder Tobin Heath called Morgan "a world class player and someone we're going to need in this tournament."
"It's awesome to see how quickly she's gotten back into the group," she added, "the way she has taken care of herself over this time has just shown she is able to jump in. We're fortunate to have her back healthy."