The USA national women’s team didn’t really need Alex Morgan’s five goal haul for their debut 2019 World Cup fixture, though the three-time champions certainly seemed to enjoy sending the records tumbling.
For cosmetic purposes, the States lashed on the sheen to re-assert why they are the team to beat, why they are right to have a gigantic target on their backs, and why they’re proudly favourites to win their fourth title.
In the 13-0 demolition of Thailand, the USA recorded the biggest ever victory in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, smashing their own previous win benchmark of 7-0 in the inaugural tournament China and a 12-year record previously set by Germany.
Six different players got on the scoreboard, but it was Morgan who lapped up the glory, claiming the joint-highest tally by one player in a single game.
Though the goals have since dried up for the 30-year-old since that opening glut, she remains top of the pile for the Golden Boot alongside compatriot Megan Rapinoe and England’s Ellen White still participating in the tournament. Both Morgan and Rapinoe are currently six goals behind Abby Wambach in the leading US goalscorers at the World Cup, and nine behind all-time leader Marta of Brazil.
On the same day as the USA go to their eighth consecutive World Cup Semi-Finals, where they face England at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon, Morgan will mark another personal milestone - the striker turns 30.
This is Morgan’s third World Cup tournament, and goes in as (co) captain. She’ll want to celebrate her 30th birthday with the second title, having previously won with the national side in 2015. A current occupant of a coveted Time 100 spot exemplifies her influence in and around the beautiful game. Thanks to her long, powerful legs she is famously monikered ‘Baby Horse’, and with a recent estimate of her value at around $4million, her $450,000 salary at the Orlando Pride making her one of the best paid women’s footballers in the world.
An Olympic gold medal winner at the 2012 games, Morgan now has the two more games (whether the second being the final or the third-place play-off) to become the third American to collect the Golden Boot award, and claim yet another award for her own personal trophy cabinet.
She also has a cat with six toes.
Happy Birthday Baby Horse.