Q&A: Alex Morgan eager for return to Thorns FC lineup

Morgan: "I feel like it’s time. And I’m feeling really good on the field"

Alex Morgan, Thorns vs. Sky Blue, 5.24.14

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

Portland Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan has had to be patient. Recovering from a long-term ankle injury, the striker has missed the first nine games of the season. But after returning to full training, being included to the 18-player game day roster against Sky Blue FC and the Boston Breakers, and a recent call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team, Morgan is eager to get back to what she loves to do. She spoke today after training about the challenges she faced and how she feels ahead of potentially her first game of the season.

On whether she is more excited or relieved that the wait is nearly over…
“I just feel ready more than anything. I feel like it’s time.  And I’m feeling really good on the field; we’ve played some 11v11, some 7v7. I got tackled by Rachel [Van Hollebeke] today, so we’re both feeling really good. I think I’m ready to get back on the field.”

On how the recovery has been testing on her patience and resolve…
“I think more than physically, it’s been mentally taxing for me. I’ve never been out as long as now, even with my ACL. It was an interesting road to recovery, but at the same time it’s all worth it. Now putting in the work, doing the bike, swimming whatever I can to stay fit and now I feel good getting back on the field.”

On how the injury and recovery has affected her mental toughness…
“I do feel a little stronger mentally. I feel I can withstand much more in that I’m not really phased by the ups and downs that maybe I was before. Obviously, once you get back on the field, as a forward, you’re expected to score goals, you’re expected to contribute. It’s natural to feel some sort of pressure, have ups and downs mentally and physically, but I feel really good going into this weekend.”

On what helped her get through the arduous recovery…
“I’ve never been out this long, so sitting on the sideline watching my team play, watching my team struggle, drop a couple games, that was the last line for me. I couldn’t stand to watch my team any longer, so I think that was a big driving force of why I wanted to get back and contribute and help my team out a lot. I had a lot of support along the way, a lot of doctors who took so much time out of their day to call me, catch up with me weekly, daily whatever it was – have so many scans done on my ankle. Seeing the support that I had behind me, the team of support staff, really helped me to want to do my part and get back as fast as possible.”

On where she feels her match sharpness is currently…
“I’m actually pretty surprised at how fast I’ve gotten back to where I was. I’m still trying to get back those finishing touches, the shooting, the finishing, that last bit of speed. I feel like I’ve kind of picked up where I left off. It feels really good because I expected to be a step behind everyone else. I expected my shots to be flying way over the bar. I think it’s that hunger inside, that mental strength that has gotten me back faster than I expected.”

On where she feels her mental preparedness is currently…
“It’s interesting because when I started coming back from the injury and getting more field fitness and playing with the girls, I was thinking about it a lot. Then there was just one day where it clicked and I stopped thinking about it. I never once thought about my ankle when we were scrimmaging or anything like that. So now it just comes more natural and I think mentally I’m happy with where I am. Obviously once the games start, that might be a different answer. As of right now, I’m really happy with my progress over the last couple weeks.”

On whether she feels pressured to score on her return…
“I always feel pressure from myself to score because that’s what is expected of a forward when they get on the field. I think that moving forward I want to score because I’ve been out so long. I’ve been dreaming of my first goal back, so it’s something that I’m excited to do. I don’t really see it as pressure. I see it more as just getting out there and having fun. I think the goals will come.”