Now a mom, Alex Morgan is riding a Wave heading into her fourth Women’s World Cup

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Her night’s work on the pitch finished, Alex Morgan walks into the post-match news conference in her San Diego Wave uniform, barefoot and with her left ankle still taped up, with 3-year-old daughter Charlie in tow.

Morgan veers from soccer superstar to mom and back to soccer superstar.

“Why is my tummy hurting?” Charlie interjects while Morgan is discussing the Women’s World Cup that begins this month in New Zealand and Australia. “I don’t know. Too many snacks,” her mother responds, pushing something out of her daughter’s reach, segueing between topics with the ease of taking a pass and putting the ball into the back of the net.

Motherhood will bring a new element for Morgan’s fourth World Cup appearance. The American star, who is married to MLS player and San Diego-area native Servando Carrasco, gave birth to Charlie on May 7, 2020, 10 months to the day after she and the United States won their second straight World Cup.

“I feel a little more calm going into my fourth one,” Morgan said, explaining that she knows what it takes to make it all the way to the final match, to take care of the little things and “just enjoy each moment.”

“This is my first World Cup as a mom, so I just want to also just represent mom athletes and the accomplishments and strides we’ve been able to make in women’s soccer. I think it is amazing. I’m really excited for this,” she said.

Morgan and her American teammates will try to become the first country to win the Women’s World Cup three straight times. She’s not only one of the most-experienced veteran leaders, but also one of three first-time moms, along with Julie Ertz and Crystal Dunn.

“It’s pretty special just to have my daughter with me in the environment and with the national team. There’s going to be three moms on the roster, which is great,” Morgan said. “I think that we’ve just made strides in women’s soccer with the support that we’ve gotten from the federation, from our club teams, from coaches and sponsors. So, I think that that all allows us to be able to compete at the highest level.”

Having just turned 34, Morgan is busier than ever. She’s adeptly juggling motherhood with pursuing another World Cup title while helping make the Wave a popular draw. She started a foundation to help girls and women on and off the field and is active around town, whether it’s throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at a San Diego Padres game or helping to open a soccer store she’s an investor in. She also helped lead the successful fight against the American governing body for equal pay and prize money.

Morgan, who is from the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, was traded from Orlando to the expansion Wave in December 2021. She was reunited with Wave President Jill Ellis, who coached the United States to World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. Morgan was a fixture on both teams.

Morgan has helped elevate soccer’s popularity in San Diego as the Wave’s marquee attraction. The Wave play at San Diego State’s year-old 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium and set National Women’s Soccer League attendance records of 30,854 for a home opener, on March 25, and 26,215 for a playoff game last fall.

Sean Dreusike, 41, who is the spirit coordinator for the supporter group The Sirens, said Morgan has been his favorite player since she was an emerging star and scored a key goal in qualifying for the 2011 World Cup. He’ll travel to New Zealand to watch the Americans in this World Cup.

Dreusike said he was “stunned” when Morgan ended up in San Diego. He figured she’d play in LA, where her husband had played for the Galaxy.

“In Orlando, she was struggling there, and she came here and I was worried it might be like a little bit of a retirement home; you know, famous player, in San Diego, that whole thing,” Dreusike said. “But she’s been fantastic and in lot of ways is the heart and soul of the team.”

Coach Casey Stoney called Morgan “an ultimate pro” and said she’s more than just the focal point of the Wave’s attack.

“As a player, as a leader, she’s been huge,” Stoney said. “As an ambassador in the community and what she gives back, even bigger. You know, people come to most games to see her, to watch her, to meet her, and she’s an incredible role model. We’re very lucky as a club that we have her.”

Morgan and Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove, a San Diego-area native, share a marketing representative. Wave and Padres players supported each other’s playoff runs last fall.

“All the things that she’s accomplished in the game of soccer alone has been a huge motivator for a lot of young girls,” Musgrove said. “Obviously she has played at much more competitive and like crazier levels, but to come here and be that staple for those girls and give the community of San Diego a female figure to be a hero and follow, is awesome.”

Said Morgan: “Well, bottom line is, I love this city. This is my city far after soccer as well. Just coming here and having the organization put so much trust in me has been great.”

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AP coverage of the Women’s World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/fifa-womens-world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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