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The USWNT’s lucky no. 13 saves the day once more

Aug 6, 2012, 9:50 PM EDT

morgan

Alex Morgan’s late header at Old Trafford staved off Olympic elimination and forces a rematch against Japan in the final. Really, it’s just Alex being Alex.

It’ll never get boring, but Alex Morgan’s dramatic game-winning goal against Canada has become a familiar sight. (Watch it again here.)

It’s far too early to ponder her potential legacy, but the 23-year-old has already built up a marvelous reputation. She rescued her team from an undesirable outcome (in this case, penalty kicks), just like she has time and time again. Her propensity for late heroics is what initially endeared her to the USWNT faithful.

Before the world knew her as ‘Baby Horse’, she was known as something else: clutch.

In October 2010 against China, the U.S. came perilously close to losing its first domestic friendly since 2004. Who subbed in and scored the dramatic equalizer? Alex Morgan. A month later the team looked hopeless against Italy in a World Cup qualifying play-off. (That’s right; the U.S. nearly failed to qualify for the 2011 World Cup). Who netted the go-ahead goal in stoppage time? Yup. And let’s not even mention her two-goal output against New Zealand this February that secured a 2-1 comeback win or her late equalizer to draw level with Japan in a friendly this past April.

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Saving face has become standard practice for the precocious starlet. We can flag up her towering header – a rare header – in the dying moments of the U.S.’s momentous semifinal victory over Canada as the latest example.

The context isn’t the only thing that makes today’s goal noteworthy. It marked the 20th time Morgan has found the back of the net in 2012. Morgan is just the fifth player in USWNT history to convert 20 goals in a calendar year. She also becomes the youngest. And it’s barely August.

Morgan’s grown accustomed to restoring hope in desperate situations, but her timely interventions haven’t always carried the day. Take the 2011 World Cup final for instance. It was easily the biggest stage she had yet to step foot on. Her flashy goal gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead with 21 minutes remaining in regular time. In what’s now become WoSo folklore, Japan would storm back with a second equalizer to force penalty kicks. For those unaware, the spot kicks didn’t turn out in the U.S.’s favor.

Last year’s summer classic will now have a sequel, courtesy of the U.S.’s no 13. Japan rarely relinquished control in their semifinal match against France earlier today. The United States, on the back of yet another nerve-jangling comeback, will hope to foil Japan’s bid to become the first team to win the World Cup and Olympic gold in consecutive years.

It’s all teed up for another momentous Morgan moment. We’ve experienced plenty so far, but this will be on a whole new plane. The gold medal match against the defending world champions at Wembley Stadium? That would be the stuff of legend.

  1. acieu - Aug 6, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Great win over a whining Canadian crybaby coach and I am Lithuanian.

    • alexibenjamin - Aug 7, 2012 at 11:10 AM

      FFIIXXEEDD!!! The Olympic Officials Oath is a joke. Big money equals big fixes. From Coke to Nike, the Olympic hierarchy knows what red white and blue hand commercially feeds them. Guaranteed that Nordic ref doesn’t want to be black balled so she can actually work in the future. Canada has experienced this before. In 2006 the Canadian Women’s Hockey team incurred five straight penalties in favor of the American squad during the gold medal match. However, in that case Canada still won. In 2002 David Pelletier and Jamie Sale of Canada skated a perfect program and exposed a score-fixing ring. This is no coincidence. Follow the money trail. Everything goes to the US.

  2. timb12 - Aug 6, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    Do they make Alex Morgan jerseys for men?

    • handsofsweed - Aug 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

      No shit, man. For real.

  3. pooh6299 - Aug 7, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    I am not the American or Canadian, but USA is lucky referee are on your side, referee force tie, with 2 non-shoot falut (or not fault). Really unfair for Canadian.

    • lunasceiling - Aug 7, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      On our side? Morgan pulled down in the box…no call. Wambach given an elbow shiver to the head…no call. I don’t think it was a well-refereed game, but the bad calls (and no-calls) went both ways.

  4. Steve Davis - Aug 7, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    It seems that quite a few new visitors are checking out our site. Welcome!

    I understand you are here because so many good Americans are rightfully excited about Monday’s dramatic win.

    But I hope you understand the blog’s philosophy on comments: Basically, if you can’t add to the conversation in some meaningful way, and especially if you can’t comport yourself with some minimum level of decorum, then I just delete and move on.

    That’s means nothing sexist or inappropriate (obviously) and no silly name calling.

    So … If you don’t see your comment here, that’s why.

  5. rrhodeswriter - Aug 7, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    “Take the 2011 World Cup final for instance. It was easily the biggest stage she had yet to step foot on. Her flashy goal gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead with 21 minutes remaining in regular time.”

    WRONG. Did you watch the game?? Alex scored from a great long ball by Rapinoe to give the USA a 1-0 lead. She later crossed to Wambach on the 6-yard box, and Wambach’s header put the USA up 2-1 before squandering the lead on the corner.

    This isn’t Fox News. Don’t change the facts just to fit your angle.

  6. lunasceiling - Aug 7, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    “Japan rarely relinquished control in their semifinal match against France earlier today.”

    I’d argue that France dominated the run of play much more often than not…but Japan are very, very good at making the most out of limited opportunity. Kinda like the WC2011 Finals…

    But anyway, it’s inarguable that Baby Horse is clutch…very, very clutch. Having her kind of pace after 90 minutes shows amazing fitness, but having it at 120 is pure heart. And how freakin’ good was Megan Rapinoe in that one?

    • handsofsweed - Aug 7, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Rapinoe is one of my all-time favs, period. She is diesel and completely relentless. So agressive and unafraid to get knocked around. She has only one gear: non-stop, full-throttle. They should call HER “Honey Badger.”

  7. florida727 - Aug 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Arguably the worst written article on an Olympics-related blog, Jenna. How dare you post an article about Alex Morgan WITHOUT AN ACCOMPANYING PICTURE!!! Just kidding of course. Great read. Can’t wait for the final. (No. Seriously. Where’s the picture? She’s gorgeous.)

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