Alex Morgan will never forget 2020.
She sat out the start of what was supposed to an Olympic year for the U.S. national team, missing the Concacaf qualifying tournament and the SheBelieves Cup while she was on maternity leave, awaiting the birth of her first child.
On May 7, she gave birth to Charlie Elena Carrasco.
The time frame for Morgan to return to the national team for the Olympics in July would have been tight, but the pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympics until 2021.
By the fall, Morgan was ready to begin playing again. An opportunity to join Tottenham was perfect. She could regain her match form and help raise the profile of Spurs' young women's program.
As COVID-19 raged, it created problems for the women's game in England, but Morgan got in five games and scored in her last two games. She even started for the USA when it played its first game in almost eight months, a 2-0 win over the Netherlands.
She returned home to celebrate her first Christmas with Charlie, then COVID hit. Morgan, her husband, MLS veteran Servando Carrasco, and Charlie all contracted the illness.
“We were together for 10, 12, 14 days," Morgan said on a media call from the national team camp, "kind of just recovering, sleeping as much as we could. I was fighting off a little bit of fever for quite a few days. But as I got back and took the right steps to get my body back into shape, I started to feel really good after about like three weeks or so. But it did take a little bit, and it took a lot of patience as well on my end.”
In retrospect, the break that Morgan, 31, and some of her teammates got was a positive. Many national team players competed in the NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series, but others like Carli Lloyd, 36, and Megan Rapinoe, 35, sat out after the pandemic shut down play the day after the SheBelieves Cup finished in Frisco, Texas.
“I think that if there is a silver lining in this," said Morgan, "it is that all of our bodies could have probably used the break that we would never have gotten until we retired, if not for this pandemic."
Lloyd and Rapinoe returned for the two-game friendly series in January against Colombia. Morgan sat out the camp due to national team protocols but has rejoined the team in Orlando for the SheBelieves Cup, which opens Thursday against Canada.
She says she definitely feels re-energized.
"I feel like it did re-spark just that passion for the game and me feeling really excited every day going to training," added Morgan. "And now also having Charlie, I feel like I’m making the most of it when I go to training and I don’t want to give 90 percent, I want to make sure I give 100 percent every time I go to training because that’s pulling me away from Charlie."