Alex Morgan left off the 18-player U.S. soccer roster headed to the Olympics

U.S. forward Trinity Rodman (22) reacts after missing a shot attempt against South Korea during the second half of an international friendly soccer match in St. Paul, Minn., Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)(AP/Abbie Parr)

Veteran forward Alex Morgan won’t be going to the Paris Olympics after surprisingly being left off the roster by U.S. national team coach Emma Hayes.

Morgan, a three-time Olympian and two-time Women’s World Cup winner, was the most notable absence on the 18-player list announced Wednesday by Hayes.

The roster, the youngest for the U.S. since 2008, signals a shift in the team as it looks toward the 2027 Women’s World Cup under Hayes.

“First off, I want to talk about what an amazing player and human that Alex Morgan has been. I’ve only had one opportunity to work with her, in the last camp, and I saw first-hand not just her qualities but her professionalism, and her record speaks for itself,” Hayes said. “Second of all, it’s not easy making a decision that there’s only 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers on a roster of 18. So, it was a tough decision, of course, especially considering Alex’s history and record with this team. But I felt that I wanted to go in another direction.”

The 34-year-old Morgan missed more than a month with the San Diego Wave after she injured her left ankle on April 19, but she had since returned. She also was named to the squad Hayes assembled for a pair of U.S. friendlies against South Korea earlier this month.

Morgan, who has 123 goals in 224 appearances with the national team, missed the latest Wave match last weekend as an excused absence.

“Today, I’m disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage,” Morgan posted on X. “This will always be a tournament that is close to my heart and I take immense pride any time I put on the crest.”

The Olympic roster is smaller than the 23 players who are included on teams for the Women’s World Cup and other competitions.

Hayes, who had been coaching English club Chelsea, was named the coach of the United States in November but finished the Women’s Super League season. After her arrival in May, she coached the national team’s matches against South Korea.

Versatile veteran Crystal Dunn, who in recent years has played on the back line, was included as a forward, along with Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith, Mallory Swanson and 19-year-old Jaedyn Shaw.

Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was included on the squad despite a recent thigh injury that kept her out of the team’s last two matches. Naeher recently returned to play for her NWSL team, the Chicago Red Stars.

Hayes also selected goalkeeper Casey Murphy, while Jane Campbell was included among the team’s four alternates, with midfielders Hal Harshfelt and Croix Bethune, and forward Lynn Williams.

Former coach Vlatko Andonovski resigned from the U.S. team following last year’s disappointing finish at the Women’s World Cup. Twila Kilgore led the team in the interim while awaiting Hayes’ return, and now serves as an assistant coach.

Ten players who were on the World Cup roster were included on the Olympic team. The United States has won four Olympic gold medals, more than any other team, but has not won gold since the 2012 London Games. The U.S. was eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games before earning the bronze in Tokyo.

The United States fell to No. 5 in the latest FIFA rankings, its lowest rank ever.

“There’s no denying the history of this program has been hugely successful. But the reality is it’s going to take a lot of work for us to get to that top level again,” Hayes said on a conference call. “I think looking through the sort of cap accumulation of the team, there has been a lack of development of putting some of the less experienced players in positions where they can develop that experience. And I think it’s important that we have to do that to take the next step.”

Morgan was also left off the roster for the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this year, but was added to the squad when Mia Fishel tore her ACL.

Hayes also included midfielder Korbin Albert, who was criticized earlier this year for past anti-LGBTQ+ social media posts, including a video she shared of a church sermon that described being gay and “feeling transgender” as wrong. Albert apologized for the posts and they were deleted, but she has been booed at U.S. matches.

Hayes said she’s spoken with Albert, who has struggled with the criticism.

“I’m not going to go into to that in great detail because that’s between Korbin and I,” Hayes said. “But the conversations we have had has been to talk about the importance of what we have to be mindful of and how we are all part of an environment that appreciates and understands the damage that that can do.”

The Americans will play a pair of send-off matches before leaving for France. They’ll play Mexico on July 13 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, and then Costa Rica at Audi Field in Washington on July 16.

The United States opens the Olympic tournament on July 25 against Zambia in Nice.

U.S. Olympic team:

Goalkeepers: Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders: Tierna Davidson (Gotham), Emily Fox (Arsenal), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (Gotham), Emily Sonnett (Gotham)

Midfielders: Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Lyon), Rose Lavelle (Gotham), Catarina Macario (Chelsea)

Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Gotham), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)


This story has been corrected to show that Morgan is a three-time Olympian, not four-time.


AP soccer:

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