Alex Morgan left off US women’s soccer team roster for Paris Olympics as team undergoes a changing of the guard

Damond Isiaka
5 Min Read

Washington
CNN
 — 

US women’s soccer legend Alex Morgan will not be on the team’s roster for the Olympic Games next month in Paris, a symbol of the changing of the guard going on inside the women’s national team.

Head coach Emma Hayes, who is embarking on her first major tournament in charge of the squad, named her roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics on Wednesday. The 22-player roster, which includes 18 players going to Paris and four alternates, includes only eight players from the 2020 Olympics, which were held in 2021 in Tokyo, and 10 members of the 2023 World Cup team.

Morgan’s exclusion from the roster is indicative of change coming to a team that has been hugely successful over the last several seasons with an incredibly accomplished core of players. But that generation had found itself being outpaced in recent tournaments by other nations, finishing in third place in the Tokyo Games and being bounced from the 2023 World Cup on penalties in the round of 16. Hayes, brought in after that World Cup disappointment, is facing the task of bringing the next generation of American women to fulfill the expectations of success that follow the women’s national team.

Morgan expressed disappointment at the selection but said she’ll be supporting the team next month.

“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,” she said in a post on X. “In less than a month, I look forward to supporting this team and cheering them on alongside the rest of our country.”

Hayes in a news conference praised Morgan’s contributions to the national team and her storied career but said it was time for the squad to go in another direction. She acknowledged the roster for Paris will have less experienced players than previous tournaments with an eye toward development.

“There’s no rite of passage for any team in the world to just win an Olympic gold medal and there’s no denying the history of this program has been hugely successful. But the realities are it’s going to take a lot of work to get to that top level again,” Hayes said. “I think 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. And I think it’s important that we have to do that to take the next step.

“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, you know, post-the World Cup. For us, this is an opportunity to show those learnings will take us much further than it did last time, but there is no guarantee in anything in life.”

The roster is made up of goalkeepers Casey Murphy and Alyssa Naeher; defenders Tierna Davidson, Emily Fox, Naomi Girma, Casey Krueger, Jenna Nighswonger and Emily Sonnett; midfielders Korbin Albert, Sam Coffey, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Catarina Macario; and forwards Crystal Dunn, Trinity Rodman, Jaedyn Shaw, Sophia Smith and Mallory Swanson.

The four alternates are goalkeeper Jane Campbell, midfielders Hal Hershfelt and Croix Bethune and forward Lynn Williams.

“It’s a balanced roster. I’ve considered all the factors that we’re gonna need throughout the Olympics and (it’s) one that I’m really happy with,” Hayes said.

Part of Hayes’ consideration for the roster was durability and adaptability. Many of the players selected can play multiple positions, which will be key given the relatively short turnaround between matches in France.

“The biggest factor is the 16 outfield players to play a lot of games – arguably, I hope – over a 17-day period,” she said. “Having a roster that could adapt is essential. You have a tight turnaround between games so, of course, having players on the roster who can play more than one position mattered with squad depth.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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