National Womens Soccer League

Alex Morgan left off USWNT’s Olympic roster, likely ending international run

Alex Morgan left off USWNT's Olympic roster, likely ending international run

Alex Morgan has been left off a U.S. roster for a major world championship for the first time since the 2008 Olympics. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Alex Morgan was left off the U.S. roster for next month women’s Olympic tournament in France, likely ending one of the most spectacular careers in international soccer history.

Morgan, who will turn 35 next week, ranks among the top 10 in national team history in games (224), goals (123) and assists (53) and is a two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist. But an ankle injury has limited the forward to 213 minutes with her club team, the San Diego Wave, since mid-April and she has no goals and just one assist in eight appearances during the NWSL season.

Missing the cut for Paris marks the first time Morgan has been left off the U.S. roster for a major world championship since the 2008 Olympics. But with just 18 spots on the Olympic team, as opposed to 23 for the World Cup, new U.S. coach Emma Hayes couldn’t afford to be sentimental.

“There were difficult choices, especially considering how hard everyone worked over the past 10 months,” Hayes said in a statement. “Choosing an 18-player roster involved many considerations. I am excited for the group we have selected.”

Read more: Emma Hayes' USWNT trust-building mission begins with debut win over South Korea

The U.S. will go to France ranked fifth in the world by FIFA, the team’s lowest ranking ever.

The five forwards Hayes took over Morgan include Portland’s Sophia Smith, the top scorer in the NWSL the past two seasons and the league’s most valuable player in 2022; Chicago’s Mallory Swanson, who led the national team with seven goals in six games last year; and teenager Jaedyn Shaw, Morgan’s club teammate in San Diego, who leads the U.S. with five goals this season.

Crystal Dunn, a former NWSL scoring champion, who has moved from defender back to forward, also made the team, as did Trinity Rodman, a World Cup starter and former NWSL rookie of the year. Lynn Williams, the league’s all-time leading scorer, is the alternate at forward.

Still, Morgan’s absence means the U.S. will enter a major world championship without an Olympic gold medalist or a player with more than 150 international caps for the first time since the 1996 Olympics. The team Hayes has chosen is also the youngest U.S. Olympic roster since 2008 with an average age of 26.8, four years younger than the team that won a bronze medal three years ago in Tokyo. It averages 58 caps per player, about half the number of the 2020 team.

Captain Lindsey Horan, 30, one of four players who have played in more than 100 games for the U.S., replaces Morgan as the team’s most experienced player. Horan, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and Dunn will be playing in their third Olympics.

Defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Sonnett and Casey Krueger, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Catarina Macario and Swanson all made their second Olympic team.

The U.S. will play Mexico and Costa Rica in a pair of friendlies in mid-July before heading to France, where it will open the Olympic tournament against Zambia on July 25. The U.S. will also play fourth-ranked Germany and No. 12 Australia in group play with the two top teams in each four-team group, plus the two best third-place teams, advancing to the quarterfinals.

Read more: Emma Hayes aims to replicate her Chelsea success with U.S. women's soccer

The U.S., the four-time World Cup and Olympic champion, hasn’t won a gold medal since 2012, losing to Sweden on penalty kicks in 2016 before finishing third in Tokyo.

Angel City winger Alyssa Thompson, a member of last summer’s World Cup team, has been called up for the July training camp in New Jersey but will not be making the trip to France.

The roster

Goalkeepers: Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders: Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 91/2)

Midfielders: Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC)

Forwards: Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

Alternates: Goalkeeper Jane Campbell (Houston Dash); midfielders Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit) and Croix Bethune (Washington Spirit); and forward Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC)

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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