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Alex Morgan: USWNT failure ‘will serve as defining moment’ in history

(Alex Pantling/FIFA via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team’s World Cup elimination still “hurts, and it will for a while,” Alex Morgan wrote Thursday in an Instagram caption. But the 34-year-old striker expects her squad to face its failure and to come back stronger.

In the immediate aftermath of the USWNT’s shootout loss to Sweden in the Round of 16, the 34-year-old striker had not committed to her future with the national team. But she later told ESPN that she plans to stick around.

“I’m not planning to hang up my boots anytime soon right now,” Morgan said. “So just one day at a time.”

Even with Morgan’s stated intention to return, the U.S. leaves the World Cup in a state of flux. With head coach Vlatko Andonovski facing an uncertain future, veteran stars Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz retiring and the 2024 Olympics just around the corner, the team could look very different at the Paris Games.

Whether Morgan will fit into the new plans likely depends on the head coach heading into the next World Cup cycle. The veteran star did not fit well into Andonovski’s system, which showed in her results in Australia and New Zealand — no goals and one assist for Morgan, and just four goals in four games for the USWNT as a whole.

In her Instagram post Thursday, Morgan took ownership of the disappointing World Cup performance, but she also expressed pride in her team and her optimism for the future.

“I’m so proud of the effort, the fight, and belief of this group,” she wrote. “I stand by each and every one of these players and reaffirm that we poured everything into this World Cup. This game shows you the highest of highs and lowest of lows. It can be brutal but this wound will not only heal but will serve as a defining moment in the history of USWNT — one we will grow and be stronger for.”

Noting that she will never take the opportunity to play on the national team “for granted,” Morgan seems ready to move forward with the USWNT.

“To carry scars is not a sign of weakness but a reminder that you fell and found a way to get back up,” she wrote. “There is a lot of work to do and I don’t expect it to be easy but nothing worth fighting for ever is.”