Women’s soccer is still a young sport. The first Women’s World Cup wasn’t held until 1991. However, during that time, America has managed to win four of nine World Cups. This includes both of the last two (and nearly the last three, losing a shootout to Japan in 1991).
Despite a recent coach shakeup, America seems poised to win their fifth gold medal in seven Olympic tournaments. The U.S. Women’s National Team has dominated the sport for almost its entire existence. And it’s worth taking a look at how its star players, including Alex Morgan, got to where they are.
The history of soccer’s Women’s National Team
In the ’90s, one of the all-time soccer greats, Mia Hamm, led the USWNT. She took the team to two Olympic Golds and two World Cup victories. Eventually, Hamm retired and settled down with another all-time sports great, her husband, Nomar Garciaparra. Hamm handed off the torch to players like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo.
Solo and Wambach eventually retired, paving the way for today’s stars. And one of the biggest on the international stage is Alex Morgan. Fans of the USWNT likely knew Morgan before her decisive goal in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals. But she introduced herself to the world by celebrating with her famous “tea-cup” ceremony.
This moment in the World Cup was the culmination of a lifetime of effort, and Morgan’s winning goal was never in doubt. She’s been playing hard her entire life.
Alex Morgan’s competitive drive
Insider recently delved into Morgan’s competitive nature. Since her family was so supportive, she worked hard in school and sports, and her parents rewarded her and her siblings. The sisters earned points they could eventually “cash in” for prizes that even included cars. After a childhood of working hard, Morgan was able to earn her first car.
The future soccer star had her sights set on a silver Lexus IS 350 — not only an impressive car but one that turned out to be tough to find. Sports Illustrated reported that Morgan and her father had to fly out to Phoenix to buy the car and drive it back to L.A. together. Her dad said, “She almost sent me into bankruptcy. The 250 is the standard, but she wasn’t having that.”
What Morgan does for the future of the Women’s Team
Women’s Soccer isn’t the only sport where someone has grown up as competitive as Morgan. Michael Jordan obtained his GOAT status with the same refusal to quit. Everything he did was to improve and be better–not only better than he was the day before, but especially better than everybody else. The late Kobe Bryant also has a case for the “most competitive athlete in history”.
Occasionally at the expense of their own relationships or their friendships with teammates, these men pursued greatness in their sport. Quietly, Alex Morgan grew up with the same competitive drive and got to show it off on the biggest stage in soccer last year.
Women growing up today and looking for role models in soccer can learn a lot from Morgan. She plays hard, she’s unapologetic, and she’s a great teammate. She’s also 31 already, and it won’t be too long before it’s time for the next generation of great female American soccer players to take the stage. If even a fraction of them have the competitive drive that Morgan does, the United States will continue to dominate women’s soccer internationally for decades to come.