After giving birth and dealing with COVID-19, USWNT star Alex Morgan learns to go with flow
There is very little of life as Alex Morgan used to know it.
There is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced her to be flexible in ways she never could have imagined. Train several weeks for a game only to have it canceled the day before? Oh well. Nothing to be done but get ready for the next one.
There is her absence from the soccer field, appearances in just five games over the last 19 months. It’s forced her to pack up her family and head overseas in search of training, then turn around and come back home for a similar reason.
And, of course, there is her daughter, Charlie. The little bits of free time she used to have in her schedule to nap or watch television now revolve around her daughter.
And you know what? Morgan is OK with all of it.
“I feel it did re-spark that passion for the game and me feeling really excited every day going to training,” she said Thursday. “And now, also having Charlie, I feel I’m making the most of it when I go to training. I don’t want to give 90%. I want to make sure I give 100% in training because I do feel it’s pulling me away from Charlie.”
Morgan went to Europe last fall for a spell with Tottenham, and joined the U.S. women for the first time since winning the World Cup in July 2019 for a Thanksgiving weekend game against Netherlands. She returned home the following month, but missed the January camp after she, her husband and Charlie all contracted COVID.
Alex Morgan during a friendly in November 2020..jpg (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
It took her about three weeks to recover, Morgan said. Once she did, she rejoined the Orlando Pride for the preseason and is part of the U.S. women’s roster for the SheBelieves Cup, the four-team tournament that begins next Thursday with a game against Canada.
The Americans also will play Brazil (Feb. 21) and Argentina (Feb. 24) during the tournament, which takes on added importance this year because of the Tokyo Olympics. The U.S. women have played just three games since last March, and this is only their fourth training camp.
“We’re in really good place right now. I think a lot of players are really excited for the opportunity to play top teams,” Morgan said. “We’re preparing like these are preparation games for the Olympics.”
When Morgan announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child in April 2020, the two-time World Cup champion said she hoped to return in time for the Tokyo Olympics. With the Olympics then scheduled to begin in July 2020, the turnaround was going to be tight.
But the Olympics had to be postponed a year because of COVID, and Morgan acknowledges that, for her, the extra time has been a good thing.
Especially since Charlie didn't arrive until May 7.
“It would have been an incredible challenge,” Morgan said. “I definitely wanted to do my best to be on the field for Tokyo in 2020, but I knew that, honestly, some of it really wasn’t up to me. It was up to how my body was going to recover. Being able to elongate my recovery from the birth was, no other way to put it, very helpful and I’m happy to get the extra time and compete for a spot at the Olympics.”
The NWSL’s shortened season was already done when Morgan was ready to resume training, so she went to England to play for Tottenham. It was always intended to be a short stay, but she enjoyed her time there enough that she thought about extending it.
But family considerations – her husband, Servando Carrasco, is also a professional soccer player – and wanting to be with the Orlando Pride for the preseason made her decide to come home.
“I felt like I wanted to start off the preseason with one team and go through the entire season with one team,” she said.
At a time when the key to life is about adapting, you take consistency where you can get it.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
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