This summer, Alex Morgan’s move to Olympique Lyonnais came as a surprise to many as the United States Women’s National Team star joined one of the most prestigious clubs in Europe. She stated in a letter to fans in December it had been a dream of hers to play in the UEFA Champions League and compete in Europe. However, this wasn’t a complete goodbye, as the forward will return to the Orlando Pride in June and is still very much active on the USWNT roster.
After failing to find playing time in the opening months of the season at Lyon due to illness, Morgan has been taking advantage of her recent playing time. Morgan scored five goals in her first two full 90-minute appearances for Lyon, including a hat-trick in a French Cup match.
Her recent flurry of goals should be a welcome sight for Pride and USWNT fans alike. Morgan has been playing with and against some of the best players in the world. Her teammates, Camille Abily, Eugénie Le Sommer and Ada Hegerberg, have each produced over 10 goals this season and are three of the best goal scorers in the world. Playing with them will give the forward a chance to hone her game even more.
One way in which Morgan can benefit is being introduced to a different style of play. The European game is more technical, and we’ve already seen Morgan making some great runs to get in behind the defense, which is needed in that type of system. Most of her goals, thus far, have been the result of nice build-up play by the star-studded midfield, and her ability to calculate and give them options has been superb.
She also has to push herself to stay in the starting lineup. Lyon has 11 players on its roster who were named to the 2016 FIFPro World XI list in 2016. Morgan has to give her absolute best every match to show she has what it takes to start up top for the French side.
As we saw in the SheBelieves Cup, the U.S struggled against the European powers of France and England. With players such as Morgan stepping outside the National Women’s Soccer League, perhaps this will be a good move for younger players to make as they get to play against some of the best in Europe, making them a lot more familiar with the style of play and the star players on other national teams.
Morgan hasn’t been the only USWNT member on the move, either. Crystal Dunn and Carli Lloyd are also playing in Europe, with Dunn on an 18-month contract with Chelsea and Lloyd at Manchester City until June. These are three big name players and, if they can find success in Europe, then this could be a trend we start to see more often.
This week, Morgan and Lyon will play in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match against Wolfsburg, after winning the opening leg, 2-0. Come June, Morgan could be returning to Orlando as a UEFA Champions League winner. All of her recent accomplishments should give her plenty of confidence when she returns, and fans should be excited for what could be a big year for the star.