National Womens Soccer League

Alex Morgan doesn’t make USWNT roster for Paris Olympics

Alex Morgan doesn't make USWNT roster for Paris Olympics

Alex Morgan isn’t going to the Paris Olympics.

Morgan, who is the USWNT’s active leading goal scorer and fifth on its all-time list, was left off Emma Hayes’ roster of 18 players released Wednesday. She also was not asked to be an alternate. NWSL scoring leader Sophia Smith, Mallory Swanson, Jaedyn Smith, Trinity Rodman and Crystal Dunn are listed as the forwards.

The rest of the roster is: goalkeepers Casey Murphy and Alyssa Naeher; defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Casey Krueger, Jenna Nighswonger, Emily Sonnett; and midfielders Korbin Albert, Sam Coffey, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Catarina Macario.

Hayes also selected goalkeeper Jane Campbell, midfielder Hal Hershfelt, midfielder Croix Bethune and forward Lynn Williams as alternates. All four will travel with the USWNT to France.

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Emma Hayes explains decision to leave Alex Morgan off roster

“First off, I want to talk about what an amazing player and human that Alex Morgan has been,” Hayes said during a new conference after the roster dropped. “I’ve only had one opportunity to work with her in the last camp and saw firsthand not just her qualities but her professionalism. Her record speaks for itself.

“It was not easy making a decision. There are 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers on a roster of 18. It was a tough decision, especially considering Alex’s record and history with this team. I felt wanted to go in another direction and selected other players.”

Alex Morgan statement on missing Olympics

“Today, I’m disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage,” Morgan wrote on social media. “This will always be a tournament that is close to my heart and I take immense pride any time I put on the crest. In less than a month, I look forward to supporting this team and cheering them on alongside the rest of our country. LFG”

Why isn’t Alex Morgan going to the Olympics?

While Morgan’s exclusion might be a shock, given she’s been part of the USWNT roster at every major tournament dating to the 2011 World Cup, she’s had a slow start to the NWSL season. She missed a month with an ankle injury and has yet to score, and her goal against Argentina on Feb. 23 was her first in a year for the USWNT.

Hayes, who took over as the USWNT’s coach last month, has also talked about the need for versatility with such a small roster, and others play multiple positions while Morgan does not. Olympic rosters have only 18 players, compared with 23 for a World Cup and most other tournaments. Dunn, for example, has spent most of her USWNT career as a left back and plays midfield in the NWSL. Macario is listed as a midfielder on the Olympic roster but also can play forward.

Still, Morgan, who turns 35 on Tuesday, has long been prized for her leadership, and this is a young team. Paris will be the first Olympics for half the team and four will be playing in their first major international tournament.

But the USWNT has been transitioning from the generation that won two World Cup titles and one Olympic gold medal between 2012 and 2019, a process that has accelerated under Hayes. While Horan, the USWNT captain, Dunn, Lavelle, and Naeher all have 100-plus caps, and Swanson and Sonnett are over 90, five players on the Olympic roster have made 20 or fewer appearances for the USWNT.

With an average of 26.8 years, this is the youngest Olympic roster the USWNT has had since the 2008 gold-medal winning team.

The USWNT is also trying to turn the page from its recent disappointing performances on the world stage. The Americans were bronze medalists at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and were eliminated in the round of 16 at the World Cup last summer, their earliest exit ever at a major international tournament.

“The biggest factor is 16 outfield players,” Hayes continued to explain Wednesday. “To play a lot of games, arguably, I hope, over a 17-day period, having a roster that could adapt is essential.

“Having players on the roster that could play more than one position mattered with squad depth. I also think the players on the roster, in the forward areas, that are performing well, the decision to take those players was one that we certainly deliberated over.”

The USWNT will play two sendoff matches, against Mexico July 13 and against Costa Rica July 16 before heading to Paris. There, they will face Zambia in their Group B opener July 25, followed by a game against Germany July 28. They wrap up the group stage July 31 against Australia.

USWNT 2024 Paris Olympics roster by position (caps/goals)

GOALKEEPERS (2): Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 19), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 104)

DEFENDERS (6): Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 58/3), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC, ENG; 49/1), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 32/0), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit; 49/0), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 9/2), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 91/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 11/0), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 17/1), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 148/35), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 100/24), Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC, ENG; 19/8)

FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 147/25), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 38/7), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC; 14/7), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 48/19), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars; 92/34)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Alex Morgan left off USWNT roster for Paris Olympics


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