Dec 9, 2012, 9:19 AM EDT
Even when she has a quiet night, Alex Morgan still makes news. She didn’t score — she didn’t even start — but in 45 minutes of play, Alex Morgan made history. Again.
With her second half assist on Sydney Leroux’s goal, the 23-year-old became the second player in U.S. women’s soccer history to post 20 goals and 20 assists in a single season.
From the near the top of the area in the 71st minute, Morgan found Leroux in the left of the box. When her teammate went back across goal to beat keeper Zhang Yue, Morgan joined U.S. Soccer legend Mia Hamm as the only members of the new 20-20 club.
In 1998, Hamm posted exactly 20 goals and 20 assists in the year before the States’ famous 1999 World Cup triumph. Morgan has long ago passed 20 goals, now adding her milestone assist to the 28 tallies she’s accumulated throughout the calendar year.
The U.S. Women’s National Team star started on the bench during the team’s 2-0 Saturday victory over China, a match that opened the three-game series that will wrap up the team’s Fan Celebration Tour. With fellow attacker Amy Rodriguez set for her 100th international appearance, Morgan’s spot in the starting lineup was given to the player she’s supplanted in the normal starting XI.
She still found a way to make an impact, and with two matches left on the tour, Morgan could be looking at creating a club of her own. Averaging near a goal per game this season, Morgan may hit the 30-goal mark, starting a 30-20 club that may prove lonely.
With the competition level in women’s international soccer improving, it’s difficult to see numbers like these being racked up on a team like the United States (a team that plays a high level of competition). And the numbers came in a year when there were no club requirements to draw Morgan away from a season’s worth of national team games. Hopefully that won’t be true in the future.
It makes Morgan’s achievement all the more remarkable. As with any record, the stars have aligned, leaving a year’s worth of open nets and teammates for her to pick out.
Two years ago, she was a super sub — a recent Cal grad that was having trouble breaking to Pia Sundhage’s set XI. Now she’s coming off one of the best seasons in U.S. Soccer history.
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