When the news came out over the winter that Alex Morgan would be spending the first six months of 2017 playing in France, Orlando Pride fans were rightly worried about the team having to play most of its games without its star player — this was before the club signed Marta.
The Pride struggled out of the gate to start the year and it was looking as if the playoffs wouldn’t be possible in year two, but the Pride have turned things around in the second half of the season and have climbed all the way up to a playoff position, largely thanks for the return of Morgan, who has partnered up with Marta to make the duo an unstoppable force.
Marta has 11 goals this season, which is good for third in the NWSL, and Morgan already has seven in just eight games, putting her fifth in the league.
“Well both of them are pretty rubbish players, so the fact they’re both scoring goals is a bonus for us,” Tom Sermanni joked after the Pride’s 2-1 win over the Boston Breakers on Saturday. “What we’ve started to see over the last three games or so is you’re starting to see a real connection. They’re both on the same page, and when they’re on the same page we’ve got ourselves a really lethal strike force.”
Morgan is playing some of the best soccer of her life right now. She’s scored seven goals in the last six games for the Pride, who now control the fourth and final playoff spot with five games left, and has a brace in each of the last two matches. She’s averaging a league goal every 86.8 minutes, best in the NWSL, and is already two goals off her career high for an NWSL season (nine with the Portland Thorns in 2013).
“I feel like I’ve been in season since January, so I’ve been in season for a while now and I feel really good, I feel like I have a good rhythm,” Morgan said. “I played a lot of games in France and took a few games to adjust, and that’s normal. Now I feel like I’m finding my teammates well, and we’re finding each other well. I feel like it’s just clicked really well at the right point of the season.”
Nobody knew what to expect with Morgan when she came back from France, but the U.S. Women’s National Team star has exceeded expectations so far upon her return, and now she’s helping the Pride push for their first playoff appearance.
Orlando will be on the road again this weekend to take on FC Kansas City before returning home next weekend, Sept. 2, to host the Boston Breakers at Orlando City Stadium.