Alex Morgan's 6–0 win goal against Argentina last week was not important in the grand scheme of things. After all, USBTT were already 4–0 ahead in their Schebels Cup finale.
For Morgan, however, the strike meant everything.
Her first goal after the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup was to return to the field after giving birth to her daughter Charlie in May. This marked the end of one chapter of her career and the beginning of the next. And it symbolized her new dual role which led to her new dual role as a pro athlete and mother.
Morgan's return to the field at first seemed like it would be quick and uncomfortable.
The striker noticed that it would take him about two months to recover from the birth of the child last year to be fit for the Tokyo Olympics. Even for a world class athlete, it would have been a heavy lift.
“I definitely wanted to try my best to be on the field in Tokyo in 2020, but I knew that honestly, it wasn't really up to me,” Morgan said. It just depended on how my body was going to recover. “
The postponement of the Olympics gave Morgan a sad chance, and a chance to play back at a more gradual pace.
“Being able to go through that and not enhance my recovery from birth, there's no other way to put it: it was very helpful,” she admitted.
Still, pregnancy, going back to Morgan's previous levels after childbirth and taking care of the baby – in any timeframe – was never an easy feat.
A kineiology and epidemiology professor at Michigan State University, Drs. James Pivarnik, who studies pregnancy and sports, explains aim In general, top-tier athletes are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of returning to the field after giving birth.
“Anyone at the pro level, you're getting a few things,” Pivarnik said. “You have some great genetics, you have received some great training over the years, a lot of experience. You have put in long hours and to overcome many things to get where you are.
“This is the next thing, isn't it?” This is not a disease, it is just the next thing that can derail you but it is not needed. If you look at it that way, when you experience overcoming other challenges, your chances of succeeding are much better. “
When she came back into the fray, Morgan faced a new reality. Many professional athletes have very little time – they train hard on most days, but their scheduled team activities last only a few hours on some days.
For any new mom, however, the downtime is fleeting. For a new mom looking to regain her previous status as one of the world's best strikers, it is non-existent.
“My life has definitely made a 180,” Morgan said. “When we have an afternoon, the difference between training or whatever, is, ‘Oh, let me lie down and watch TV and take a nap.”
“It's hanging out with Charlie the whole time – I'm on his schedule. I absolutely love it, but it's very different to be sure.”
When she is on duty on the national team, Morgan's new routine also involves making full use of her teammates, as they are happy to be truly happy.
Morgan said, “It's so fun to be around Charlie and to be different to the people around him and to be with him, to play with him and for him to be around all these incredible women.” “Morgan said.
“It's such an intense environment and she just brightens up the room and I think it lightens everybody.”
USWNT has not given birth to a baby boy since 2017, when Sidney Leroux brought his infant son Cassius on a trip to Scandinavia. Four years later, head coach Vlatko Andonovski is more than happy to include Charlie in his call-up.
“It brings the team together,” Andonowski said. “to some extent, [Charlie] Like a toy, all the players passed him and enjoyed the experience and it just brought joy to the group. “
Morgan knows that she needs more games to return to her previous world-class level.
A short stint at Tottenham saw him making just five appearances before returning to the US in late December. He is now ahead of the NWSL season with Orlando Pride, hoping for a run.
When she plays, however, she has a new purpose. She is not playing for herself right now. She is expecting her family, her daughter, and others to follow in her footsteps.
“I just want to be an example for other female athletes who are mothers or want to be mothers – knowing that they are still in the game,” Morgan said after scoring against Argentina.
“You can be a mother and still be at the top of your game, so I want to continue to show that and tonight was the first step.”