Her achievements and passionate campaigning for equal pay inspire young women players everywhere. How does she do it? Incredible drive, hard work, and a burning passion to be the best. This is her life story so far.
Growing Up in Los Angeles
Alex Morgan grew up in LA's Diamond Bar suburb with her parents, Pamela and Michael, and two older sisters, Jeri and Jeni. She possessed a natural athletic talent from a young age. Alex played numerous sports growing up, but she discovered a love for soccer when she reached her teens.
Her father, Michael, encouraged her to take up the sport and became one of her first coaches. Michael bought her a practice goal when she turned ten. He played different positions to help Alex prepare for every eventuality on the field, even though he had little to no experience coaching soccer.
A Letter to Her Mom and Herself
Alex manifested her dream to be a professional soccer player at a young age. It all started when her sister wrote a letter to their mother about wanting to be a model. The act inspired Alex to write a similar note.
She said she neither knew about a professional league nor watched a women’s soccer match on TV before. Alex only knew she loved playing soccer. So, she grabbed a pad and scribbled a note to her mom that read, “I am going to be a professional athlete for soccer! Love always, Ali Cat.”
She Begins Playing Youth Soccer
Alex’s earliest experience playing soccer was with the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). At 14, she began playing club soccer with Cypress Elite, where the young athlete showed tremendous promise.
During this period, her club won the Coast Soccer League (CSL) under-16 championship and placed third at the under-19 level. Alex was integral to these wins, her knack for the sport was undeniable.
A Force on the Field
While attending high school, Alex also played for regional and state teams of the Olympic Development Program (ODP), where her insane sprinting abilities and speed were legendary. The ODP would become a crucial training ground for her career in international soccer.
Alex credits the ODP for helping her learn from the best coaches and players. The program was pivotal to her development, especially since she joined club soccer relatively late at age 14.
She Joins the National Team
At 17, Alex achieved a tremendous milestone when she joined the United States under-20 Women's National Soccer team. However, she sustained a severe ACL injury while playing against the men's junior national team, putting her out of action for a considerable period.
She joined the team again only in April 2008 but remained in touch with the sport regardless. The budding soccer star attended UC Berkeley, where she played for the California Gold Bears from 2007 to 2010. She led them to a thrilling win during her first season.
The Start of a Successful NWSL Stint
Alex may have joined the national team later than anticipated, but she was in perfect form and raring to go! Her first appearance for the team was during the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in Mexico. She scored in a match against Cuba which was her first international goal.
Alex was also a part of the national team in the 2008 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile. She scored four goals in the tournament, one of which received the most votes as the best goal. Alex’s excellent performance earned her the tournament’s prized Bronze Shoe.
She Multi-Tasks Like a Pro
Student life at UC Berkeley was demanding. Alex needed to hit the books hard while fulfilling her U.S. National team commitments. Despite overlapping obligations, she enjoyed a glorious stint with the California Bears. Among her best games was the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship against Stanford. Alex scored a brilliant equalizer with barely two minutes left – resulting in a draw.
Stanford emerged as the better team during penalty kicks that day, but the game was memorable. During her time with the California Bears, Alex helped the team reach the NCAA Tournament four years in a row.
How She Got the Nickname “Baby Horse”
When she started playing for the national team, many saw her as a pretty face who scored goals. But people would soon learn she was way more than that. Her teammate, Meghan Rapinoe, told an online publication that Alex received the nickname “Baby Horse” immediately after joining the team.
The name was a tribute to her speed, long legs, and youth – she was the youngest player on the team. Alex looked like she was galloping when effortlessly racing up and down the field.
Awards and Recognitions
Alex raked up several awards and achievements during her collegiate career. She was one of the candidates for the Hermann Trophy during her junior year of college. It was the first time a Golden Bear reached the top three finalists for the prestigious award.
Alex was also a finalist for the Honda Sports award. By the time she graduated college, Alex had scored 45 goals and 106 points for California. Despite a packed soccer schedule, Alex graduated a semester early, earning her well-deserved degree in Political Economy.
She Joins Western New York Flash
In January 2011, Alex became the first overall pick for the Western New York Flash as part of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) draft. Like many Alex Morgan moments to come, this was one of many outstanding firsts. She was the first California player drafted in round 1 of the WPD draft. On May 1, 2011, Alex scored her first goal during a home opener, where the Flash won 3-0 against Atlanta Beat.
The young star was in for a brilliant season with 14 matches and four goals throughout 2011. The Flash won the WPS Championship and the regular season title that year.
2011 FIFA Women's World Cup
Alex scored a crucial late goal that helped the U.S. place at the 2011 Women's World Cup. She became the youngest player on the national team at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Age would cease to matter, as everyone would soon discover.
She scored a goal and an assist during the finals against Japan, the first-ever player to hold that distinction in a World Cup final. The U.S. national team placed second that year, but a new star had been born.
In 2012, Alex joined the Seattle Sounders Women along with her national teammates Sydney Leroux, Stephanie Cox, Hope Solo, and Megan Rapinoe. The WPS had suspended operations due to numerous financial and legal challenges. Seattle presented new horizons and opportunities for Alex.
During an interview about her signing, Alex shared how excited she was about joining the Sounders. Seattle loved soccer. It was fitting that the city might become home to a professional women’s team in the future.
A Good Season in Seattle
The 2012 season was a game-changer for the Sounders. Nine out of ten home matches at the Starfire Stadium were sold out. Fans were thrilled to watch so many national players on the team. Average attendance for the Sounders Women rose dramatically – at least four times higher than the next team.
Alex scored two goals and two assists during her season appearances for the club. She could only appear thrice due to national team commitments at the time.
At the London Olympics
2012 was a great year for Alex Morgan. She scored her first career hat trick at the Algarve Cup during a match against Sweden. She then traveled to London for the Olympics and returned with a gold medal.
Alex scored in the 123rd minute of a semi-final against Canada, setting a new record for the latest goal in women’s football history. Her assist in the final match against Japan helped teammate Carli Llyod score a decisive goal and secure victory for the U.S.
She Appears in Sports Illustrated
The 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featured five Olympians. The issue hit the stands on Valentine’s Day, featuring the who’s-who of competitive sports – Michael Phelps, Rafael Nadal, Alex Morgan, Natalie Coughlin, and Chris Paul.
Alex and Natalie made waves in a risque spread covered in body paint. In an interview, Alex said she had been more nervous about her photo shoot than the 2011 World Cup final against Japan.
Alex Morgan, the Cover Girl
The magazine features kept rolling in after her smashing spread in Sports Illustrated. In 2013, Alex was featured on the cover of the music issue of ESPN The Magazine along with teammates Sydney Leroux and Abby Wambach.
The athletes recreated Katy Perry’s “One of the Boys” album cover. Alex appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated multiple times after 2012, particularly before and after winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
She Marries the Love of Her Life
She met her husband, Orlando City midfielder Servando Carrasco while they were both playing for UC Berkeley soccer. The connection was instant. The pair began dating shortly, and an engagement followed in December 2013.
Alex and Servando had a winter wedding in 2014 that involved Maracas and personalized Coke cans for the guests. Alex has otherwise kept her personal life relatively private. She prefers staying out of the public eye when she’s not playing
She Joins Portland Thorns FC
The inaugural season of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) was on January 11, 2013. As part of the NWSL allocation, Alex and three other national team players joined Portland Thorns FC. Alex kicked off the team’s home opener with a goal against Seattle Reign FC, with Portland eventually winning the match 2-1.
After the regular season wrapped up, Alex emerged as the team’s point leader. She and Christine Sinclair jointly held the position of scoring leader with 21 points (eight goals and five assists) each.
A Good Run In Portland
In August 2013, Portland won the NWSL inaugural championship title against Western New York Flash, who had been regular season champs until then. Portland won 2-0, with Morgan assisting brilliantly on the second goal. After a phenomenal first run, Alex returned to Portland for the 2014 season - one that would be more thrilling than the first.
The team welcomed a new head coach, Paul Riley, that year. Alex made 15 appearances and scored six goals for Portland. In October 2015, the Thorns announced it had traded Alex and teammate Kaylyn Kyle to Orlando Pride.
She Appeared In An ESPN Documentary
Given her phenomenal success, it was only a matter of time before a television stint came calling. In 2013, Alex appeared in “Nine for IX” – an ESPN documentary series by women filmmakers about women in sports.
Alex appears in a story about the hard work, success, and legacy of the national team that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999. The film also delves into the stories of successful female coaches, intriguing athlete backstories, and the objectification of female athletes.
Wins, Accolades, And Injury
Her success with the United States National Women’s Team continued unabated in 2013. The team lifted the 2013 Algarve Cup with Morgan finishing as the tournament's top scorer. The squad clinched another title victory in the 2015 Algarve Cup. Next stop? The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But, sadly, during the run-up to the most critical tournament of the year, Alex spent two months recovering from a knee injury she sustained during the NWSL season against the Boston Breakers.
2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Despite the injury scare, Alex arrived in top form for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She started every game in the tournament. Her first was the group match against Nigeria, where the U.S. won 1-0.
Although she registered only one goal, she won crucial penalties for the U.S. in knockout games against Colombia and Germany. Alex started the final match as the U.S. defeated Japan 5-2 to win their third FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Squad Receives A Warm Welcome Home
Following the 2015 FIFA World Cup, Alex and her teammates received several accolades and commendations. The team came home to a ticker tape parade in New York City – the first women’s team to win such an honor.
Every player also received a key to the city from then-mayor Bill de Blasio. But the best event was yet to come. In October of that year, President Barack Obama hosted and honored the team at the White House.
The Highest Paid In U.S. Women’s Soccer
Alex Morgan’s outstanding achievements have cemented her place in U.S. sports history. As she continued crushing it in every tournament, several brands rushed to sign endorsement deals with her. She has worked with some of the biggest names in the business: Nike, Coca-Cola, AT&T, McDonald’s, Mondelez International, and Panasonic.
She even signed with brands outside her normal scope of work, such as Bank of America, GNC, and ChapStick. In 2015, TIME named Alex Morgan the highest-paid women’s soccer player in the U.S.
She Appeared In FIFA Alongside Lionel Messi
Alex and Portland Thorns teammates Steph Cately and Christine Sinclair debuted in a FIFA video game. “FIFA 16” was the first franchise to feature women’s international teams. The three athletes appeared in a region-specific game alongside Lionel Messi.
Alex then appeared in FIFA 19 as an interactive character. She also consulted for EA, her insights proving valuable in creating the character and world of Kim Hunter – the game’s playable character.
She Sets The Bar Higher
During qualifications for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Alex scored a goal in under 12 seconds. She had set a new record for scoring the fastest goal in team history. Her achievements during this period earned the star a place in the tournament’s Best XI.
That same year in March, the United States Women’s National Team won the first SheBelieves Cup. Alex won the MVP award and the Golden Boot for her stellar performance.
A Life-Changing Trip
In 2016, she partnered with UNICEF on the “Kid Power Team” initiative to combat global hunger and malnutrition. The program focused on children’s holistic development through sport, exercise, and healthy food. It inspired Alex to use her platform for something bigger than her or the game.
In 2017, she and her husband traveled to Africa on a trip sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Sports Envoy. Soccer had always taken center stage in Alex’s life. But Tanzania transformed how she saw the sport and its potential for real-world impact.
She Files A Wage Discrimination Suit
Alex isn’t just a top athlete. She’s not afraid to speak up for what is right. In 2016, she and four fellow players filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination. The women’s team was paid a quarter of the men’s salaries - despite the women’s team creating more revenue ($20 million more!).
As a result of the suit, the Soccer Federation negotiated a new, mutually agreeable deal. In September 2017, Alex and Megan Rapinoe also signed up for the Common Goal campaign, where players donate 1% of their wages to soccer-related non-profits.
A Stint In France
In January 2017, Alex signed a six-month contract with France’s Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) for a whopping $33,000 per month. With numerous goals and assists during the regular season, Alex’s French debut was enormously successful. On March 12, she executed a hat trick for Lyon during a match against Rodez, resulting in a 6-0 win and a spot in the semi-finals of the French Cup.
The unstoppable Alex scored four goals during the semi-final against Hénin-Beaumont – three goals within ten minutes. Alex was sadly not a part of the winning Lyon team at the finals due to a hamstring injury.
Trouble With The Law
In October 2017, cops stopped Alex and other fellow athletes from visiting Epcot in Florida claiming the group was causing a public disturbance. The incident report described the players as “verbally aggressive” to staff and guests, claiming Alex appeared highly impaired.
Authorities removed the group from the scene without any charges filed. Alex later posted an apology on Twitter that, among other things, read, "I will learn from this and make sure it does not happen again."
She Returns To Orlando Pride
Besides making good money, Alex’s contract with Lyon also included provisions for a return in 2018. The athlete decided against it, however. In September 2017, the young star confirmed she was returning instead to Orlando Pride for the 2018 season. The Pride has already announced Alex to their active 20-player roster as early as June of that year.
The season started well enough, but the team did not match up to their successful campaign in 2017. Pride finished seventh out of nine teams. Alex played in nineteen games and scored five goals during the season.
She Continues Making Soccer History
In 2018, Alex won the U.S. Soccer's Female Player of the Year award with a tally of 18 goals in 19 appearances for the country that year. The tally included a hat trick in the 2018 Tournament of Nations (her fourth career hat trick) and seven goals at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in 2018.
She also helped the U.S. team qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Alex scored two goals out of 6, steering the team to a thrilling 6-0 win over Jamaica.
There's No Stopping Alex Morgan
In 2018, Alex emerged as the top scorer at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship with seven goals. She followed this up in style at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Alex’s six goals earned her the distinction of joint top scorer, five of which were part of the record-breaking 13-0 win over Thailand.
The athlete also made the news for cheeky things, such as pretending to sip tea after a semi-final victory over England.
2019 FIFA World Cup Winners
Apart from scoring goals, Alex won a critical penalty for her team in the 2019 World Cup final against the Netherlands – later converted by teammate Megan Rapinoe to open the scoring. The United States won the finals 2-0, and Alex received the Silver Boot.
She initially finished as the joint top-scorer but lost the Golden Boot in the eleventh hour to Megan Rapinoe. 2019 ended with her being benched and ruled out for the season due to a debilitating ankle injury.
She Struggles To Find Her Feet
Although hopes were high for the 2019 season, things did not improve at Orlando. She played in only six games for the club and failed to score - a stinging first for Alex, who had never ended a Pride season without scoring.
2019 was not her year, and it was crammed with international soccer commitments for the player. She spent most of the year playing matches overseas, which included the World Cup.
In October 2019 she announced she was pregnant. Alex and Servando welcomed their daughter, Charlie Elena on May 7, 2020 – six weeks after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. In the docuseries “Ready for Anything” (2021), Alex shared how it was hard being a first-time mother and a professional soccer athlete.
People told her she was never going to be the same player after coming back from pregnancy. Alex refused to give in to the notion that starting and family meant the end of her career. She would persevere, regardless of how difficult the journey might be.
Alex Returns To Professional Soccer After Pregnancy
Her much-anticipated national comeback took a while. After announcing her pregnancy in 2019, she dedicated her time to her family until 2020. Soon, international sporting events and club soccer came to a grinding halt following the 2020 global health crisis.
She made her first appearance on the national team in November 2020 under a new head coach, Vlatko Andonovski. In February 2021, Alex joined the 2021 SheBelieves Cup roster.
Alex And Taylor Swift Love The Number 13
It is common knowledge that Alex and Tay-Tay are besties. At the 2019 Teen Choice Awards, the two redefined friendship goals and regularly featured each other on their Instagram stories. Taylor posted a picture of them on Twitter with a caption that read, “The thirteens really jumped out.”
Taylor and Alex love the number 13. Alex wears 13 on her jersey. Given her numerous tournament wins and awards, 13 seems to be her lucky number. Taylor, born on December 13, has always found ways to incorporate 13 in her album releases and music.
She Returns To Orlando Pride And Signs With An English Club
Alex returned to Orlando Pride in September 2020 before the Fall series. The new mama was ready to go. She had missed the NWSL Challenge Cup in the summer of 2020 and was eager to get back into training.
That same year, she signed a three-month contract with Tottenham Hotspur in England from September to December 2020. But, seeing her play, it was clear that Alex was struggling to regain form and fitness after lingering injuries and pregnancy.
Why Tottenham Spurs?
Alex’s move to Tottenham Hotspur raised plenty of media attention. Perhaps the press and her fans would have been less intrigued if she were joining Manchester United or Manchester City. Sam Mewis and Tobin Heath had made similar career moves. But a player of Alex’s caliber and status joining a relatively new club that finished seventh in the first WSL campaign? Something seemed amiss.
Reports stated there was no fee involved. She was already a U.S. player and would continue receiving her salary from the NWSL.
Struggles And Triumphs In England
Alex made her Spurs debut in November, with the first start in a match against Bristol City. She played for 45 minutes before being substituted at half-time. Her third appearance was against long-time Spurs rivals Arsenal, where the game ended in a 2-2 tie. Alex was the only player who failed to convert during the penalty shootout.
She kicked the ball over the crossbar and missed a crucial penalty, leading to a 5-4 defeat for the Spurs. In December, Alex scored her first goal for the Spurs in a 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. It was also the Spurs’ first league victory that season.
In 2021, Alex returned to Orlando Pride just in time for the season. She made her first appearance in the April Challenge Cup, assisting teammate Sydney Leroux on the game's only goal. It was a sweet homecoming for Alex, who had last played for the team in August 2019.
She scored in each of the first four games of the regular season – the first in league history. An unbeaten Orlando finished at the top of the league, and Alex became the NWSL Player of the Month.
Alex Morgan, NYT Bestselling Autor
Alex has penned a fun book series for middle schoolers titled “The Kicks.” With empowering stories around soccer and friendship, the series celebrated Alex’s love for soccer and hoped to inspire young girls. As of today, she has published 12 books in the series.
“Saving The Team,” the first book in the series, debuted at number seven on the New York Times Best Seller list. Amazon Prime also released a live-action kids' comedy series based on “The Kicks.”
2021 Tokyo Olympics
In 2021, athletes everywhere geared up for the most anticipated sporting event – the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Alex was a part of the 18-player soccer team for the United States, eager to get back into the game after a long hiatus. She appeared in all six matches, scoring a goal in the group-stage win over New Zealand.
Alex also converted a penalty kick into a shootout victory over the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. The team put up a good fight but failed to dominate. The United States ultimately won a bronze in August after defeating Australia 4-3.
Change Is Afoot
November 2021 ushered in an era of surprise developments for the national team. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski decided to give younger players more opportunities and valuable minutes before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. As a result, several veteran players found their names off the 22-player roster.
For the first time in a long while, Alex was among those who would not be representing U.S. soccer. By extension, her name did not feature in the roster for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup scheduled for February.
She Joins San Diego Wave FC
The NWSL expanded from 10 teams to 12 in 2021. The newly-formed San Diego Wave FC traded for Alex, who signed with the club in December 2021. One of her primary reasons for joining the Wave was being closer to family. She is from San Dimas, California. Although she dedicated most of the last five years playing for Orlando, they had not made the playoffs since 2017.
After another disappointing 2021 season, Alex felt it was time to move on. In return, Orlando got Angharad James and a whopping $275,000 in allocation money.
She's Back On The National Team
In June 2022, Alex joined the national team again - restoring balance in the universe of U.S. soccer. She has been recalled ahead of the 2022 CONCACAF championship and two friendlies against Colombia. Alex helped the national team win their third consecutive CONCACAF trophy - seemingly unaffected by the break from playing.
Her excellent penalty kick led the team to a 1-0 victory over Canada in the finals – a feat that automatically qualified the U.S. for the Paris Olympics in 2024.
The Force That Is Alex Morgan
Alex continued proving why she was the best in women’s soccer in the U.S. Not only did she secure a spot for the team in the Olympics, but she helped them qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023. Alex scored two brilliant goals during the opening match against Haiti in July 2022.
She was also a part of the squad that played Jamaica on July 7, winning the game 5-0. Alex won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and made it to the best XI.
Alex Is Super Competitive
Alex was always the most competitive kid around. She later admitted in an interview that she could not picture herself doing anything other than a competitive sport. Had she not become a soccer player, she would have found another sport - perhaps volleyball or softball. Her teammates and former coaches have echoed the sentiment.
One of her teammates described Alex as the most competitive person she’s ever seen – taking casual board games as seriously as a national game! Her husband shared how their card games routinely turn into a fight, with long and awkward silences after.
Why She Wears A Pink Headband
Alex always wears a pink headband for games, even though it doesn’t match the colors of her national or club soccer uniforms. She has been wearing the pink headband since her sophomore days at Berkeley, where she first met her husband, Servando Carrasco. Servando’s mother was battling breast cancer at the time – the first of two times. She survived and beat the disease.
The pink headband has remained a conscious fashion choice to support her mother-in-law and promote breast cancer awareness.