Alex Morgan left off U.S. women’s soccer team’s Olympic roster, likely ending international run

Alex Morgan has been left off a U.S. roster for a major world championship for the first time since the 2008 Olympics.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)
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Alex Morgan was left off the roster for next month‘s women’s Olympic tournament in France, likely ending one of the most spectacular careers in U.S. soccer history.

Morgan, who will turn 35 next week, ranks among the top 10 in national team history in games (224), goals (123) and assists (53) and is a two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist. But an ankle injury has limited the forward to 213 minutes with her club team, the San Diego Wave, since mid-April and she has no goals and just one assist in eight appearances during the NWSL season.

“Today, I’m disappointed about not having the opportunity to represent our country on the Olympic stage,” Morgan wrote in a social media post. “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.”


Morgan, the eighth-best goal scorer, male or female, in international soccer history, has a club option for 2025 remaining on her contract with the Wave, but she will be 38 by the time the next major championship, the 2027 World Cup, starts.

The U.S. women’s national team defeats South Korea 4-0 in its first game under coach Emma Hayes as the team looks to build cohesion before the Paris Olympics.

June 1, 2024

Missing the cut for Paris marks the first time Morgan has been left off the U.S. roster for a major world championship since the 2008 Olympics. But with just 18 spots on the Olympic team, as opposed to 23 for the World Cup, new U.S. coach Emma Hayes couldn’t afford to be sentimental.

“It’s not easy making a decision when there’s only 16 outfield players and two goalkeepers on a roster of 18,” Hayes said. “So it was a tough decision, especially considering Alex’s history and record with this team. But I wanted to go in another direction.”

Versatility was also a factor, Hayes said, since the U.S. will have to play seven games in 17 days if it reaches the final.

“Having a roster that you know could adapt is essential,” she said. “We have a tight turnaround between games, so having players you know could play more than one position matters.”

The U.S. will go to France ranked fifth in the world by FIFA, the team’s lowest ranking ever.


The five forwards Hayes took over Morgan include Portland’s Sophia Smith, the top scorer in the NWSL the past two seasons and the league’s most valuable player in 2022; Chicago’s Mallory Swanson, who led the national team with seven goals in six games last year; and teenager Jaedyn Shaw, Morgan’s club teammate in San Diego, who leads the U.S. with five goals this season.

Crystal Dunn, a former NWSL scoring champion, who has moved from defender back to forward, also made the team, as did Trinity Rodman, a World Cup starter and former NWSL rookie of the year. Lynn Williams, the league’s all-time leading scorer, is the alternate at forward.

Still, Morgan’s absence means the U.S. will enter a major world championship without an Olympic gold medalist or a player with more than 150 international caps for the first time since the 1996 Olympics. The team Hayes has chosen is also the youngest U.S. Olympic roster since 2008 with an average age of 26.8, four years younger than the team that won a bronze medal three years ago in Tokyo. It averages 58 caps per player, about half the number of the 2020 team.

That, too, was by design, said Hayes, who was hired away from Chelsea to replace Vlatko Andonovski last fall after the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup in the round of 16, its earliest exit ever. The Olympics will mark her first competitive match as U.S. coach and her first international match as a manager.

“Looking through the cap accumulation of the team, there’s been a lack of development of putting players, some of the less-experienced players, in positions where they can develop that experience,” she said. “It’s important that we do that to take the next step. So I’m not looking backwards. We have to look forward with a group of players that have put that World Cup behind them, and we’re very much looking forward to sort of building on the work post-World Cup.”

Captain Lindsey Horan, 30, one of four players who have played in more than 100 games for the U.S., replaces Morgan as the team’s most experienced player. Horan, who has made 148 international appearances, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and Dunn will be playing in their third Olympics.


Defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Sonnett and Casey Krueger, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Catarina Macario and Swanson all made their second Olympic team.

The U.S. will play Mexico and Costa Rica in a pair of friendlies in mid-July before heading to France, where it will open the Olympic tournament against Zambia on July 25. The U.S. will also play fourth-ranked Germany and No. 12 Australia in group play with the two top teams in each four-team group, plus the two best third-place teams, advancing to the quarterfinals.

A conversation with her dying father helped persuade Emma Hayes to leave Chelsea and pursue the challenge of revitalizing the U.S. women’s national team.

May 23, 2024

The U.S., the four-time World Cup and Olympic champion, hasn’t won a gold medal since 2012, losing to Sweden on penalty kicks in 2016 before finishing third in Tokyo.

“There’s no rite of passage for any team in the world to just win an Olympic gold medal,” Hayes said. “There’s no denying the history of this program. But the realities are it’s going to take a lot of work for us to get to that top level again.”

The roster

Goalkeepers: Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders: Tierna Davidson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Fox (Arsenal FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Casey Krueger (Washington Spirit), Jenna Nighswonger (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 91/2)

Midfielders: Korbin Albert (Paris Saint-Germain), Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon), Rose Lavelle (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Catarina Macario (Chelsea FC)


Forwards: Crystal Dunn (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave FC), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars)

Alternates: Goalkeeper Jane Campbell (Houston Dash); midfielders Hal Hershfelt (Washington Spirit) and Croix Bethune (Washington Spirit); and forward Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC)