Pride star Mor­gan named Player of Year

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Iliana Limón Romero

Alex Mor­gan has been named 2018 U.S. Soc­cer Fe­male Player of Year af­ter scor­ing at a blis­ter­ing pace and help­ing lead the U.S. women's na­tional team through World Cup qual­i­fy­ing.

Mor­gan, who also is a key play­maker for the Or­lando Pride, led the U.S. women's na­tional team in scor­ing 2018, post­ing 18 goals dur­ing 19 matches. She also chipped in three as­sists. Mor­gan fin­ished the year with 98 ca­reer goals.

She scored against nine dif­fer­ent coun­tries, strik­ing first against Den­mark be­fore later pick­ing up goals against Mex­ico, China PR, Ja­pan, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, Ja­maica, Canada and Scot­land. She had six multi­goal games, in­clud­ing a hat trick against Ja­pan in the Tour­na­ment of Nations, and moved to third place in U.S. his­tory in mul­ti­ple­goal games, ty­ing Michelle Ak­ers (26) and land­ing be­hind Abby Wam­bach (45) and Mia Hamm (38).

Mor­gan won the Golden Boot as the top scorer at the Concacaf Women’s Cham­pi­onship, scor­ing seven goals dur­ing four ap­pear­ances. She scored two goals dur­ing a semi­fi­nal win against Ja­maica that helped send the U.S. to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and the clinch­ing goal dur­ing a 2-0 cham­pi­onship game win over Canada.

“It was an in­cred­i­ble year for the U.S. women’s na­tional team, go­ing un­de­feated, and there were a lot of play­ers that stepped up and played es­sen­tial parts in lead­ing this team,” Mor­gan said in a U.S. Soc­cer news re­lease. “Of the five of play­ers nom­i­nated, any one was de­serv­ing, so I am in­cred­i­bly hon­ored to have won this award."

The na­tional team suc­cess bal­anced out some frus­tra­tion dur­ing a tough year with the Pride. The star-stud­ded team never clicked and missed the Na­tional Women's Soc­cer League play­offs. Mor­gan fin­ished with five goals and two as­sists dur­ing 19 matches.

“Af­ter hav­ing a club sea­son with Or­lando that I didn’t an­tic­i­pate, I’m just happy that I was able to con­trib­ute in this way to the na­tional team, es­pe­cially lead­ing into a World Cup year, as it was im­por­tant for the whole team to gain con­fi­dence and mo­men­tum,” Mor­gan said in the state­ment. “To be named cap­tain with Me­gan [Rapi­noe] and Carli [Lloyd], I felt I was chal­lenged to suc­ceed in a re­ally pos­i­tive way and was com­fort­able grow­ing into this larger role with the team. I’m also pleased that I was able to im­prove and evolve in my play along the way. There’s a good en­ergy to the team right now and we’re all re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting started next year.”

It marks the sec­ond time Mor­gan has won U.S. Soc­cer Fe­male Player of the Year hon­ors, pre­vi­ously claim­ing the award in 2012 when she scored 28 goals dur­ing the team's run to an Olympic gold medal.

AMY KONTRAS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

U.S. for­ward Alex Mor­gan cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a goal against Ja­pan dur­ing the Tour­na­ment of Nations in July. Mor­gan, who also is a key play­maker for the Pride, was named 2018 U.S. Soc­cer Fe­male Player of the Year.

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