Morgan was named to the United States U-20 women’s national team that competed in the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile, scoring a total of four goals in the tournament against France, Argentina and North Korea. Morgan’s fourth goal of the tournament was a match-winner that gave the U.S. a gold medal, which subsequently voted the best goal of the tournament, and later FIFA’s second-best goal of the year. Morgan’s performance on the field earned her the Bronze Shoe as the tournament’s third-highest scorer and the Silver Ball as the tournament’s second-best player behind teammate Sydney Leroux.
She has been capped by the senior national team, first appearing as a substitute in a match versus Mexico in March 2010, and scored her first international goal after coming on as a substitute against China, which salvaged a 1–1 draw in October 2010. Her most important goal to date came a month later in a crucial road game against Italy. After entering the match in the 86th minute, she scored in the fourth minute of added time to give the United States a 1–0 victory over Italy in the first leg of a playoff to qualify for the final spot for the Women’s World Cup.
Morgan was the youngest player on the U.S. national team that placed second in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. On July 13, 2011, she scored her first FIFA Women’s World Cup goal in the 82nd minute of the semi-final matchup against France, giving the USA a 3–1 lead and ultimately, the victory. She scored the first goal (69′) in the FIFA World Cup Final against Japan after coming on as a substitute at the half, as well as assisting on the Abby Wambach header (104′) for a goal in extra time. Her performance made her the first player to ever record a goal and an assist in a World Cup final. Morgan finished eighth in the balloting for the 2011 FIFA World Player of the Year.
Morgan didn’t become a starter for the U.S. until the fifth game of the year in January, the final of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. She scored twice and provided two assists to Wambach that day, in a 4–0 win over the Canadian hosts and has become a regular starter ever since. Morgan scored 14 goals in a 12-game stretch from January to late May 2012, including three straight two-goal efforts. She earned her first career hat-trick on March 7, 2012, during a 4–0 victory against Sweden in the third-place game of the Algarve Cup. In June 2012, she was nominated for an ESPY Award as the Best Breakthrough Athlete.
In the opening game of 2012 London Olympics group play, Morgan scored both the equalizer and the goal that sealed the win against France. In the next three Olympic matches, she assisted on the game-winning goal, including two to Wambach.
Morgan scored the winning goal in the Olympic semifinal match against Canada in extra time, sending the United States to the gold medal match against Japan. Her goal came in the 123rd minute, the latest goal ever scored by a member of the U.S. women’s team and a FIFA record. The goal continued her propensity for late heroics in the closing stages of matches. Seventeen of her 28 total goals to date have come after the 60th minute. The game-winning goal was Morgan’s team-high 20th in 2012, becoming only the sixth and youngest U.S. player to do so in a single year. In the final, a 2–1 win against Japan on August 9, Morgan assisted on a Carli Lloyd header.
She ended the tournament with 3 goals, and a team-high four assists (tied with Megan Rapinoe) and ten points (tied with Rapinoe and Wambach). To celebrate her achievements, she was honored at her previous high school, Diamond Bar High School, and #13 was retired. In 2012, Morgan led the U.S. in goals (28), multi-goal games (9), assists (21) and points (77). Her calendar year goals, assists, and points totals are the third-best, tied second-best (one tally shy of record), and second-best, respectively, in U.S. WNT history. Morgan joined an exclusive club as she and Hamm are the only U.S. WNT players to record at least 20 goals and 20 assists in the same calendar year and became only the third and youngest player to reach 20 assists in a calendar year. Morgan and Wambach combined for 55 goals in 2012 – matching a 21 year old record set in 1991 by Michelle Akers (39 goals) and Carin Jennings (16 goals) as the most goals scored by any duo in U.S. WNT history. She had either scored or assisted on 41 percent of the USA’s 120 goals this year. And, by herself, she comfortably out-scored and out-assisted her opponents, who combined for 21 goals and 12 assists in 32 games against the U.S.
For her excellence on the field, U.S. Soccer announced Morgan as the 2012 Female Athlete of the Year. Morgan’s exploits have also earned her a place on the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist, ultimately finished third in voting. At the 2013 Algarve Cup, Morgan shared top-scoring honors. She finished the competition with four assists and three goals, including the equalizer against Sweden that advanced the U.S. to the final and the two goals against Germany that won the championship. Morgan previously won the tournament’s golden boot in 2011.
In 2012 Morgan signed with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing to pen The Kicks, a three-book series for middle schoolers. The main characters are four young girls centered on the themes of friendship, leadership, and soccer. In a statement released by Simon & Schuster, Morgan said she wanted her books to “inspire young girls” and “celebrate” her love of soccer. On September 1, 2012, the publisher set the release date for the first novel, Saving The Team, on May 14, 2013, and second novel, Sabotage Season, on September 3, 2013. The first novel, Saving the Team (ISBN 1442485701), debuted at number seven on the The New York Times Best Seller list for Children’s Middle Grade.
Morgan has been featured in a number of advertisement campaigns and modeling assignments, including features in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, appearing in a section of athletes in body paint and in the 2013 ESPN The Magazine music issue recreating Katy Perry’s “One of the Boys” album cover.
Although her teammates rarely use it nowadays, Morgan was given the nickname “Baby Horse” by her teammates on the U.S. women’s national team for her speed, running style and youth. She has expressed her support for FC Barcelona.
- FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Silver Ball : 2008
- NCAA All-American First-Team : 2010
- Pac-10 Conference First-Team : 2008, 2009, 2010
- ESPY Award Best Breakthrough Athlete Nominee and Best Moment Nominee: 2012, 2013
- Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year, Team Sport: 2012
- U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2012
- Olympic Gold Medal : 2012
- National Women’s Soccer League Second Best XI : 2013
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