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Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misidentified the high school where Alex Morgan held an event with the girls soccer team. It was Gardena High School.
GARDENA, Calif. — Alex Morgan, co-captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, said she plans to play in the 2020 Summer Olympics even though she’s pregnant and expecting a baby girl in April — less than four months before the Games begin.
The Opening Ceremonies for the Tokyo Games are scheduled for July 24.
“I hope to get back on the field as soon as possible,’’ Morgan, 30, told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “After having a healthy baby, I want to get back with the national team and look forward to playing in Tokyo.’’
This will be Morgan’s first child, and she said motherhood will not derail her soccer career. She has developed into a star as a member of the U.S. women’s teams that won 2019 World Cup, the 2015 World Cup and the 2012 Olympic gold.
“There are so many women that have been able to come back to their respective sport after pregnancy and continue to have a successful family while playing their sport that they love at the highest level,’’ she said. “I plan to follow in those footsteps and be one of those women who have a family and carry my daughter around as I’m going to the next city to play. And I still want to continue to enjoy the sport that I’ve been playing for all my life.’’
On Tuesday afternoon, Morgan was at Vincent Bell Park in Southern California to unveil a mini soccer pitch. She joined members of the girls soccer team at nearby Gardena High School during light drills on the new pitch — 84 feet long and 40 feet wide on an acrylic surface similar to a tennis court.
Powerade, the official sports drink of the U.S. women’s team, partnered with the U.S. Soccer Foundation on the project that will feature programming specifically designed for young girls.
Alex Morgan talks with Gardena High School girls soccer players inside of her newly built soccer field in Gardena, California. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is working to build 1,000 soccer fields across America by 2026.
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“More access to the sport, especially in an underserved area of Los Angeles, is important to me,’’ Morgan said.
She expressed just as much passion when asked about the U.S. women team’s lawsuit against U.S. Soccer seeking to be paid as much as members of the U.S. men’s national team. A trial date has been set for May 5, but Morgan said she hopes the case will be settled out of court.
“A lot is going on behind the scenes,’’ she said. “There’s been a lot of progress made …
“But we’ll continue to fight for what is right and what we deserve and we continue to say the same thing. It’s not just about equal pay. It’s about equal investment in the sport. It’s about equal marketing, advertising and along those lines it’s about equal opportunity for us to make similar or the same income as the men’s team.’’
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Since the U.S. women won the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on July 7 in France, Morgan said, life has been a whirlwind.
“Starting with the ticker tape parade in New York City, which is one of the best moments ever,’’ said Morgan, who won the Silver Boot during the 2019 World Cup as the tournament’s top scorer behind only teammate Megan Rapinoe. “Just seeing hundreds of thousands of people come out and support us. Chanting our names, chanting ‘Equal Pay,’ we’ve heard a lot of that. And just supporting us was incredible.
“Then from there, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of speaking engagements where I”ve been able to speak on behalf of the team and what it was like to go through a World Cup on leadership and teamwork. So that’s been exciting and a little new for me as well.’’
In addition to cutting back on her training, Morgan said, she has made another concession to pregnancy: she’s more flexible with the vegan diet she said she started 2 1/2 years ago.
“I’ve dipped into the more vegetarian lately,’’ Morgan said. “With the pregnancy, it’s whatever kind of cravings I have that day. But I try to stick to primarily plant based.’’
With motherhood and the Olympics ahead, Morgan said she’s refraining from making too many plans. She and her husband, professional soccer player Servando Carrasco, announced the pregnancy on Oct. 23.
“I have another big year ahead of me and I think whatever I’m planning to do, the plans will probably dissolve,’’ she said. “It always happens where nothing happens according to plan. So I just am taking it week by week, enjoying my time with my husband and my family in the city of L.A. and just eagerly awaiting the arrival of our baby girl.’’