Alex Morgan off USA Olympic women’s soccer team as era ends

Alex Morgan has been left off the United States women’s national team’s 2024 Olympic roster, marking the team’s first major tournament without the star forward since the 2008 Olympics, before she debuted for the team.

USWNT head coach Emma Hayes named her 18-player roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics on Wednesday, calling upon 10 players who participated in last year’s World Cup.

Morgan, who turns 35 next week, is not among them.

Morgan’s 224 caps and 123 goals are each the most among active U.S. players and rank ninth and fifth, respectively, in program history.

“Making an Olympic roster is a huge privilege and an honor and there is no denying that it was an extremely competitive process among the players and that there were difficult choices, especially considering how hard everyone has worked over the past 10 months,” Hayes said in a statement.

Midfielder Catarina Macario and forward Mallory Swanson both made the USWNT’s Olympic roster after missing the 2023 World Cup because of major injuries.

Hayes’ roster features several veterans, including goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, captain and midfielder Lindsey Horan, and Crystal Dunn — who is listed as a forward, not a defender — making their third Olympic rosters.

Hayes formally assumed her USWNT coaching role late last month after accepting the job in November. She hopes to guide the USWNT to its first Olympic gold medal since the 2012 London Games.

Morgan reacted to the exclusion Wednesday, saying on social media: “Today, I’m disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage. This will always be a tournament that is close to my heart and I take immense pride any time I put on the crest. In less than a month, I look forward to supporting this team and cheering them on alongside the rest of our country. LFG”

The Americans are looking to bounce back from their worst finish in a major tournament after exiting the 2023 World Cup in the round of 16.

The average age of the USWNT’s Olympic roster is 26.8 years old, per U.S. Soccer, the youngest at an Olympics since 2008 and four years younger than the team’s previous Olympic roster.

Fullback Jenna Nighswonger, midfielder Korbin Albert, midfielder Sam Coffey, and forward Jaedyn Shaw all made their first major-tournament roster.

Coffey had a brief injury scare earlier this month but returned to playing for her club, Portland Thorns FC, on Saturday.

Albert has earned significant playing time for the USWNT this year but came under scrutiny in March for social media activity that appeared to be anti-LGBTQIA+.

Albert later apologized, and Horan and Morgan briefly addressed media from the following USWNT camp to say that they were disappointed, and the matter would be handled internally.

Hayes has since talked about creating an inclusive environment, a point she made moments after Albert was booed by home fans in Colorado during a match vs. South Korea earlier this month.

“I want everybody to be patient,” Hayes said after the match. “There’s a lot of young players on the pitch. They are learning, but they want to give everything for their shirt; they want to give everything for their country. Off the pitch, some make mistakes, some have to learn. My job as a coach is to help teach them and guide them.

“We want to create an environment that’s tolerant, that’s respectful, that’s inclusive. But I want to make sure when our players come and play and they represent the national team, I want you to know that I will always make sure that I educate and do the right things in the background to make sure everybody adheres to that.

“But I want to make sure our players, when they come out and they play for us, they feel supported by all of us. That’s for me, really, really important. Happy Pride. It’s a good month.”

Veteran forward Lynn Williams and goalkeeper Jane Campbell join uncapped midfielders Hal Hershfelt and Croix Bethune as the team’s four alternates, who are not official Olympians unless they replace a player on the roster, but they will travel to France with the team.

The USWNT’s Olympic roster will have two games together before departing for France: July 13 against Mexico and July 16 against Costa Rica.

The U.S. women open Olympic play on July 25 against Zambia, followed by group matches against Germany and Australia.

The USWNT has won a medal in all but one of the seven Olympics that have featured women’s soccer, including four gold medals.

The Americans won three straight gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012.

They earned the bronze medal at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

2024 U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team roster by position (Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (2): Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 19), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 104)

DEFENDERS (6): Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 58/3), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC, ENG; 49/1), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 32/0), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit; 49/0), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 9/2), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 91/2)

MIDFIELDERS (5): Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 11/0), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC; 17/1), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 148/35), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 100/24), Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC, ENG; 19/8)

FORWARDS (5): Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 147/25), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 38/7), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC; 14/7), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 48/19), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars; 92/34)

Alternates: Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, midfielder Hal Hershfelt, midfielder Croix Bethune and forward Lynn Williams.