One of the big question marks on the U.S. women's national team is who will start at center forward at the Olympics.
Vlatko Andonovski doesn't lack for candidates. In the first six games of 2021, he has started three different players:
-- Carli Lloyd, who earned her 300th cap on Saturday, started four games.
-- First-year attacker Catarina Macario started the second game of the year, scoring her first international goal in the 6-0 win over Colombia.
-- Alex Morgan, who was held out of the January camp because of COVID-19 protocols, started the second game of the SheBelieves Cup, a 2-0 win over Canada.
But Morgan, who started when the USA won the 2015 and 2019 Women's World Cup championships, laid claim to the starting job with a big performance in the 2-0 win over France on Tuesday. It followed a 1-1 tie with Sweden on Sunday during which Lloyd failed to score.
Morgan, 31, was fouled for the penalty kick Megan Rapinoe converted in the 5th minute and scored the second goal in the 19th minute. That was only a small part of what impressed Andonovski.
"Besides the direct impact with the [penalty] and a goal," he said after the game, "she was also very involved in our build-up. She was able to hold the ball, bring the midfielders into the game, and release pressure for us."
Lloyd has been vocal that she should have started at the 2019 World Cup, but the case for Morgan was strong.
Besides the five goals in the 13-0 win over Thailand, Morgan scored just one other goal at the 2019 World Cup -- the winning goal in the 2-1 win over England in the semifinals -- but her ability to link up with teammates in the attack and wear down opposing defenses was a big reason for the USA's success.
Morgan gave birth to her first child, daughter Charlie, in May 2020, and played just six games in 2020, five with Tottenham and one with the USA. She has played only five games for the Orlando Pride in the last two years -- three before and two after the 2019 World Cup -- but says she has been reinvigorated since joining the Pride for the 2021 NWSL preseason.
"I was really looking forward to this camp in general because preseason with Orlando went really well," she said. "I felt like I was able to gain that couple percentage [points] that I was just lacking as I was coming back from pregnancy, so I felt like really good going into this camp."