Over the last two days, The USWNT Top Five Players of 2018 has counted down from 5 to 2, and today’s #1 is a conclusive example of the National Team’s entire year.
A 20 match year, with allocated and newly called in players, saw the U.S. Women’s National Team go undefeated, champions of SheBelieves, Tournament of Nations - and CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. They played top ranked teams, World Cup qualified teams, and teams both on U.S. Soil and in Europe.
With the athletes named on this Top 5, truthfully any of them could hold the claim of most important player on the pitch. All are players who have provided an array of highlights and memories for the year. However, when people take a look back on 2018 - and the success that USA dominated with throughout - the name and face they will likely think of is Alex Morgan.
1.) Alex Morgan
With 18 goals in 2018, Morgan is the only player to start and end the year with a goal in the first and final match of 2018.
While primarily known as a goal scorer, she assisted on 3 other goals this year, including one of Megan Rapinoe’s seven goals on the year. The chemistry that developed between the two of them put opposition on alert throughout 2018 and was a constant threat throughout the year.
Her 1500 minutes this year is the most of any other player on the National Team, having started in 18 of the 19 matches in which she appeared. Morgan’s presence on the pitch was one that could not be ignored for opposing teams whether she scored or not.
As Morgan provided brilliant goals on the year, her role on the team on the team expanded as USA and head coach Jill Ellis settled into their 4-3-3 formation. With her role in the 9 evolving over that time, Morgan’s ability to hold up play on the pitch allowed opportunities for her teammates to remain involved in the offensive attack.
Whether the goals scored have been with her feet or through the air, her finishing this year has been some of her most clinical to date.
While CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers was a reminder of both the poweress of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and the cruel reminder of the large gap of talent between different federations, Morgan put on a goal scoring showcase as she netted 7 goals over 5 games. Her scoring feat earned her the Golden Boot of the tournament.
In 2019, the world will be watching as the National Team continues to build their chemistry. Whether it’s her off the ball movement or her precision that keeps defenses confused, Morgan’s form is hitting its stride as the World Cup approaches.
Whether it’s connecting between her teammates or scoring the goals, the playing relationships developed over the course of 2018 are the catalyst for what could be an even more memorable 2019. With Morgan at the helm, the U.S. look unstoppable.