Healthy Alex Morgan Looking To Make Impact Against Colombia
EDMONTON, Alberta -- U.S. women's national team forward Alex Morgan said that her fitness has improved to the point that she is ready to go the full 90 minutes, or even beyond if that is what is required.
Speaking with reporters on Saturday ahead of Monday's Women's World Cup round of 16 match against Colombia, Morgan said not even the prospect of playing games on artificial turf is holding her back.
"I feel like I'm ready to go 90 [minutes] or more," she said. "On turf, obviously you feel it after, you feel the achiness. It's definitely different than you would feel after a game on grass, but I'm ready."
And how does U.S. manager Jill Ellis feel about Morgan's statement?
"Great, that's what I want to hear," she said at Saturday's press roundtable. "That's exactly what I want to hear."
A nagging bone bruise in Morgan's left knee limited her playing time during the group stage. She saw the field for 11 minutes in the tournament-opening 3-1 victory over Australia, and then played 12 minutes in the 0-0 draw against Sweden.
I think it's going to come and we're building. We used those group stage games as building blocks and we're just going to keep getting better.Alex Morgan, U.S. forward
But Morgan started her first game for club or country in over two months in the group finale against Nigeria and lasted 65 minutes. Morgan didn't score in any of those appearances, and failed to convert several good chances against Nigeria, but she believes it's only a matter of time before she finds the net.
"I feel like I'm getting rhythm of play back and I feel good with where I am," Morgan said. "I think it's going to come and we're building. We used those group stage games as building blocks and we're just going to keep getting better."
Ellis lauded Morgan's work ethic in coming back from the injury, but declined to tip her hand as to what her forward pairing would be against Colombia. Ellis has yet to start the same forward pairing twice so far in the Americans' three games.
Ellis said, "I think for me, what I look at in the Colombia game is, 'Where is the space going to be? Who is going to be the most effective? How do we break them down?' That's what goes through my head in terms of looking at a personnel change or adjustment in the game."
During the period that Morgan was sidelined, there was concern that the lingering nature of her injury might mean she would miss a significant portion, or perhaps even the entire tournament. Morgan said she never even entertained such thoughts.
"I stayed pretty positive through my injury and the recovery, even though the recovery was taking a little bit longer than I thought it should have," Morgan said. "I can't really say if there was much doubt because I didn't really let that creep into my mind. I knew that no matter what percentage my body felt [healed], once I got on the field I would be 100 percent and I'd be playing like I would with no injury."
The U.S. will be facing a hungry Colombia side that has progressed to the knockout stages for the first time in its history. Colombia midfielder Lady Andrade, who earned a suspension for punching Abby Wambach in the face when the two sides met in the 2012 Olympics, stirred the pot a little bit when she told USA Today that the Americans "belittle us. They think we're a team they're going to walk all over and it will be an easy game for them."
Morgan said she understood why Andrade, who scored two goals during the group stage, was feeling confident, but wouldn't be drawn into any verbal jousting.
"We want to let our actions speak on the field, and we don't necessarily want to respond to that," Morgan said.