Alex Morgan is expected to be the cornerstone of the U.S. Women’s National Team in this year’s women’s World Cup, but now it appears the star forward may not be back from an injured knee in time for the opening match of the tournament.
Morgan was held out of the team’s warm up match on Saturday, watching from the sidelines as her team fought to a 0-0 draw with South Korea. Though there had been hope that Morgan’s knee would be healed in time for the start of the tournament, it now appears as if her rehab will take a bit longer.
After Saturday’s tie, coach Jill Ellis indicated that Morgan wouldn’t be ready for the first match against Australia.
“In terms of Alex, we’re building her,” Ellis said “Realistically, she’s been off for a while. So in terms of minutes, that’s something I think we’re going to have to build through the early games to be ready. We don’t want to blow her up too early in terms of physically being ready.”
The team had appeared much more hopeful earlier in the week. On Wednesday, Alex Morgan said she had no doubt she would be in the starting lineup for the team’s match in Winnipeg.
“My knee is doing well, thank you for asking,” Morgan said during Wednesday’s media day for the U.S. team. “I’ve been doing a lot better and I’m still day-to-day. Once June 8 comes, there’s no question in my mind that my knee will not be bothering me. I’ll be 100 percent.
“I’m looking forward to the World Cup and knowing that’s not going to set me back at all.”
The team has stepped up in Morgan’s absence, with replacement Sydney Leroux scoring against Mexico and Abby Wambach coming in to score two goals in the second half of the match.
Morgan led the team to gold in the Olympics, and had 28 goals to go with 21 assists.
Leroux said it would be a difficult road without Morgan, but said the team is doing a good job rallying around Morgan.
“You can imagine, right?” Leroux said. “I feel like a lot of us have been in that position, especially in these last couple months. I was there [with an injury earlier in the year]. And you have friends and teammates you can lean on. Obviously, I’m there for her, and it sucks. But we’re going to need everyone, and it’s going to take 23 players to win this tournament.”
Alex Morgan still has more time to recover from the knee injury. The U.S. team plays its first match on June 8 against Australia.
[Image via Getty Images/Elsa]