US for­ward Alex Morgan joins Lyon on six-month deal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

United States for­ward Alex Morgan has joined Euro­pean cham­pion Lyon from Or­lando Pride on a six-month deal, with an op­tion for her to play a fur­ther sea­son.

Morgan has made 120 ap­pear­ances for the US women’s team and scored 73 goals, win­ning the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and the World Cup last year in Canada.

“I’m very happy to start this new chal­lenge with Olympique Ly­on­nais,” Morgan told the club’s web­site on Tues­day. “It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to play along­side the best play­ers in the world.” Lyon is in sec­ond place in the league this sea­son, three points be­hind un­beaten Paris Saint Ger­main. A 1-0 de­feat to PSG on Satur­day was Lyon’s first league loss in more than two years.

The 27-year-old Morgan will form what looks on pa­per like a dev­as­tat­ing at­tack­ing part­ner­ship with France striker Eu­ge­nie Le Som­mer, who has 16 goals in 12 games this sea­son and 186 over­all since join­ing Lyon in 2010. Morgan said in a long let­ter on The Play­ers Tri­bune web­site that she made the de­ci­sion dur­ing “a be­lated hon­ey­moon that I re­cently took with my hus­band, Ser­vando, in Europe.” Af­ter “a few weeks of de­lib­er­a­tion” Morgan said the de­ci­sion to join Lyon be­came ev­i­dent.

“Lyon is a team that’s world-renowned for ex­cel­lence, with a ros­ter that in­cludes many of the great­est play­ers in the world. In fact, Lyon won all three pos­si­ble ti­tles last sea­son: Cham­pi­ons League, French League and the Coupe de France,” she wrote. “They are com­mit­ted to growing women’s soc­cer and pro­vide the women with first-class fa­cil­i­ties and an un­par­al­leled train­ing en­vi­ron­ment on par with the men’s team.”

Long-serv­ing Lyon pres­i­dent Jean-Michel Au­las has over­seen con­sid­er­able suc­cess with both the men’s and women’s teams.

The men won a French record seven French ti­tles from 2002-2008 while the women have won the league 14 times and the Cham­pi­ons League three times. “Alex Morgan’s ar­rival demon­strates Lyon’s will to in­vest in the high­est level, start­ing with the women,” Au­las wrote in a Tweet.

The women’s squad has 26 play­ers, all of them in­ter­na­tion­als, rep­re­sent­ing France, Ger­many, Nor­way, Swe­den, Ja­pan, New Zealand and the US. Morgan says she will start play­ing next month and will re­turn to play for the Pride af­ter Lyon’s sea­son ends in June. “I’m com­mit­ted to Or­lando. Just as I’m com­mit­ted 100 per­cent to the Na­tional Team,” she said. “Those things won’t change, but right now I need to fol­low my heart.”

Morgan is used to play­ing at the high­est level of the game. At the 2012 Olympics in Lon­don, she scored a dra­matic win­ner against Canada in the semi­fi­nals. A year ear­lier, she scored in the 2011 World Cup fi­nal, which the U.S. lost to Ja­pan on penalty kicks.

A star in the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League, Morgan pre­vi­ously played for Western New York Flash and Port­land Thorns. She was named US fe­male soc­cer ath­lete of the year in 2012.—AP

OHIO: In this Sun­day, June 5, 2016 file photo, United States for­ward Alex Morgan stands dur­ing the first half of an in­ter­na­tional friendly soc­cer match against Ja­pan in Cleve­land, Ohio. Alex Morgan has joined Lyon from Or­lando Pride on a six­month deal. — AP

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