Alex Morgan comes up clutch for USWNT teammates, on and off the field

BY Martin Rogers • June 13, 2019

PARIS – As we saw during her five-goal demolition job against Thailand, Alex Morgan enjoys celebrations, especially when they involve her colleagues on the United States national team.

This, it should be noted, is nothing new.

For while 13-0 victories – and ensuingdiscussions about whether the team won too heavily and liked it too much – are a rarity, Morgan’s U.S. teammates are accustomed to her coming up big when it matters.

During blowouts against overmatched opponents. During tense struggles against the best teams in the world. In training. And, er, at weddings? According to defender Kelley O’Hara, Allie Long’s wedding “wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Alex Morgan.”

Wait, what? Let’s let reserve midfielder Long, who got married in 2016 and had Morgan as her maid of honor, explain.

“Oh my gosh, she is on point for everything,” Long laughed, as she spoke to FOX Sports. “I didn’t know this but my venue ran out of tequila for the party in Miami. Terrible problem. (Alex), she somehow (fixed it). That is impressive.”

Wedding receptions can be joyous and stressful in equal measure, especially if unforeseen snafus threaten to spoil the festivities. When the booze ran dry following Long’s nuptials to long-term partner Jose Batista with still hours remaining, Morgan made a series of rapid phone calls and arranged for a swift delivery of bottles to be rushed to the party to ensure the merriment could continue without pause.

“I send my birdies out and then they make sure that they get it done,” Morgan said with a grin that would make any “Game of Thrones” fan proud.

Virtually the entire national team was at Long’s celebration but it was Morgan who used the same attention to detail she brings to her soccer career to ensure fun was had by all.

“(Allie) had a wedding planner but I guess the Type A in me really comes out when the pressure is on,” Morgan said.

There is no suggestion here that tequila orders and wedding plans can have a tangible effect on a team’s performance, but there is no doubt the extreme closeness in the U.S. camp has been one of the forces behind its ongoing success.

“I spend more time with these women than I do my husband or my real family, so they do become family,” Morgan added. “We get to know each other on a deeper level. These 23, we call them our ‘22 best friends.’”

Long agrees.

“We have grown as people and players together,” she said. “It is such a unique situation. The bond we have is not something that we need to try to make happen, it is already there. No question it makes the experience more rewarding and absolutely it makes us a better team.”

Such togetherness is likely to help block out the critical noise, much of it overblown, that followed the team’s Group F drubbing of Thailand. Some pundits, particularly on Canadian television, insisted that running up the score, plus celebrating each additional goal once a blowout was assured, was in poor taste.

Head coach Jill Ellis made a significant point when she questioned if such a clamor would ensue if a similar outcome in the men’ World Cup.

As for Morgan, she insisted the reactions to the goals were nothing to do with trying to belittle Thailand, but recognizing her own team’s effort.

“I have dreamt of this since I was a little girl,” Morgan said, while pointing out that goal differential could be a determining factor if the U.S. finishes level with, say, Sweden, in the group. “We knew every goal could matter in this group stage. When it comes to celebrations, this was a really good team performance and it was important for us to celebrate with each other.”

Remember, Morgan likes to make sure things go smoothly for her teammates. Just ask Allie Long – and her thirsty wedding guests.

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