Alex Morgan Is Back and Focused on 2015 World Cup

June 14, 2014 Team USA

Alex Morgan has been out of action for more than six months due to injury, but now she’s back and focused on helping the U.S. women qualify for the 2015 World Cup. Morgan spoke with ASN’s John D. Halloran.

WHILE MOST U.S. SOCCER FANS are currently fully focused on the U.S. men’s team and their pursuit of World Cup glory, the U.S. women are also preparing for a World Cup—with the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tournament to take place just four months from now.

In preparation for qualification, the women are set to play France in two friendlies over the next week, this Saturday and then again next Thursday. The two matches will be an important benchmark for the team under new head coach Jill Ellis (both games kickoff at 7:30 ET and will be broadcast via livestream at ussoccer.com).

Since winning Olympic gold in 2012, things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing for the U.S. women. They’ve endured two coaching changes and finished seventh at this year’s Algarve Cup, dropping matches to both Sweden and Denmark in the process.

They’ve also been beset by injuries, including one to superstar Alex Morgan. Last October while practicing with the national team, Morgan suffered what she thought was just a routine ankle sprain. But as she tried to play through the injury on both the club and international level, it eventually developed into a stress reaction—an injury that would keep her off the field for the next seven months.

This weekend, Morgan returned to action in a 90-minute effort for her club, the Portland Thorns, and is now back with the national team in preparation for their matches against France. American Soccer Now’s John D. Halloran caught up with Morgan on Thursday night.

American Soccer Now: You’re back in full training with the national team for the first time in over six months. What’s that been like?

Alex Morgan: There’s definitely another speed I need to get to. I realize I still need to gain game fitness which I’ll hopefully gain with these next few games against France. Mostly, it’s just great to be back in with the girls because my teammates are my really good friends. Now, having Jill coaching us, it’s just great to be back in full preparation leading up to the World Cup qualifiers.

ASN: Has it been hard to watch the national team play without you?

Morgan: Honestly, it has been really hard. It is hard watching, especially on TV because I wasn’t able to come [into camp] and be with them. It definitely motivated me to get my [rehab] done off the field.

ASN: There’s quite a bit of competition up top between you, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez and a report out today that Ellis wants to look at Kelley O’Hara at forward. Has that been a motivator as well?

Morgan: There’s so many forwards in camp. It’s such great competition. For me, coming back from an injury, it’s great to see so many forwards in camp, so many people fighting for spots on the team leading up to the World Cup qualifiers. It definitely motivates me to get back into [my pre-injury] form. I need to do whatever I can to get back into shape.

ASN: You went 90 minutes last weekend for the Thorns. Does that mean, at least in terms of your injury, you’re back to 100%?

Morgan: With my injury, I don’t feel it anymore. I’m fully back to 100%. Ninety minutes was, if you watched the game, a little much for me in terms of game fitness. But I feel like the first 70-75 minutes, I did well for my first game back. My shots and finishing were not as crisp as they were before the injury, but that will come with more practice and games. I’m not too worried about it. I’m just excited to get back on the field and get my speed and my technical ability back.

Read more… (via AmericanSoccerNow.com)