CARSON, Calif. – Alex Morgan has been the face of the US women's national team almost since netting that semifinal goal en route to the gold medal at the London Olympics nearly seven years ago, and she's a vital figure as the Yanks bid for an unprecedented fourth FIFA Women's World Cup title, which kicks off on Friday.
Nobody's more excited to see what she'll do in France over the next month than Servando Carrasco. The LA Galaxy midfielder and Morgan have been a couple since their days at the University of California, Berkeley, were married on New Year's Eve heading into 2015, and with pregnancy presently sidelining Sydney Leroux, Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer's wife, they're the most prominent of America's soccer couples.
Carrasco has been with Morgan, who has 101 goals and 40 assists in 163 international matches, throughout her rise from speedy finisher to global superstar, but he's only been present once to root her on in a World Cup – in Vancouver for the victory over Japan in the 2015 final – and isn't sure he'll be able to make it this year.
The timing is tough. MLS's break doesn't coincide with the USWNT schedule; the Americans open Tuesday against Thailand in Reims, and the Galaxy have a U.S. Open Cup game Wednesday against amateur side Orange County FC (10:30 pm ET | ESPN+) and resume MLS play June 22, just as the World Cup quarterfinals begin.
“Potentially, maybe for the World Cup final [on July 7, with the Galaxy off that weekend],” Carrasco told MLSsoccer.com. “It's not a short flight, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and hopefully it works out. But I'll be supporting from here, for sure.”
Carrasco, 30, and Morgan, who will turn 30 on July 2, met as freshmen in Berkeley in 2007.
“She was very raw,” he said. “Clearly, she had the athletic ability. She was the fastest player on the team. She had an amazing left foot. She could strike a ball on a rope. And then she started to add things to her game, brick by brick. She got better tactically, she started watching more soccer, her first touch got better. ... She's not just a finisher now. She's not just a person that builds her game off of her speed or off of her athleticism. She's always looking for a challenge.”
Morgan started with the national team during her senior year at Cal, scored her first big goal in November 2011 – a stoppage-time winner over Italy in the opening leg of the Concacaf/UEFA playoff for the final 2011 Women's World Cup berth – and tallied twice in the tournament, one of them in the title-game loss to Japan.
She fully burst into the public consciousness a year later at the London Olympics when her 123rd-minute goal – one of 28 she scored to lead the US in 2012 – toppled Canada and sent the Yanks to the gold-medal match, in which they beat Japan.
Morgan in action for the USWNT this year. | USA Today Images
She was suddenly a very big deal.
“It's all kind of a blur now,” Carrasco said. “It was when she scored that goal to push them into the finals, and it just went from, like, 'This girl's pretty good' to 'This girl's going to be pretty amazing.' That was the moment that kind of propelled her into that stardom mode, or whatever you want to call it. That's probably when her life changed in terms of all the attention, but she remained the same person, always stayed true to who she is, and I think that's pretty incredible.”
She's been everywhere, it seems, since, co-authoring children's books with soccer themes, making a movie (last year's “Alex & Me”), and appearing on all manner of magazine covers.
“She worked incredibly hard to be where she is, so clearly I'm going to celebrate her," Carrasco said. "Yeah, she's a badass woman. So it's cool to see that kind of stuff.”
Her celebrity hasn't altered their lives too much, he says. They can go out in public without much attention, depending on where they go.
“If we go to kid's soccer tournament, of course people know who she is,” Carrasco said. “But if we go to the movies, if we go out to a restaurant, it's pretty rare [that she's recognized]. In that sense, it hasn't really changed.”
The greatest drawback is that they're a bi-coastal couple. Carrasco, who is from San Diego, joined the Galaxy last season after two and a half years with Orlando City SC, his fourth MLS club. Morgan, from Diamond Bar in eastern Los Angeles County, has been with the NWSL's Orlando Pride since 2016.
“We spent a few years in Orlando, for sure, and then for the past two years we've just been doing the long-distance stuff,” he said. “But to be honest, this is what we're used to. We know that once we're done playing soccer, we're going to be able to live a normal life, live under the same roof, but for now we're both focused on our careers.”
If Morgan is a superstar, the most recognized American soccer player of her generation, Carrasco is a journeyman holding midfielder who provides the Galaxy depth. He's behind Jonathan dos Santos on the depth chart, alongside Juninho and Perry Kitchen, and this season has played 239 minutes over seven appearances, with two starts.
“I'm proud about what I do,” he said. “I'm proud about coming into training and being ready to play. And this is what I've been working my life for. You know what I mean? I don't really seek the spotlight. I love being part of a team. I love the ups and downs that come with that. ...
“I'm not competing with her. I love her for the person she is, and what she accomplishes is almost secondary to that. Of course, I'm proud of her, there's no doubt about it. When my nieces talk to her and they look up to her, that's as good as it gets. I mean, the soccer stuff, yeah, for sure, cool. But to see her on the '100 Most Influential in the World' in Time magazine? I'm like, damn. She's making a difference.”
One thing they don't discuss, not often, is the game.
“Oh, man, that's been quite a journey,” Carrasco said. “At first, we were talking about games and stuff. You know, like, 'Oh, you should probably do this, probably do that.' And now I think the marriage is more important. We kind of keep soccer separate.”
Morgan said she welcomes insight from Carrasco.
“My husband plays more of the supporting role, and I'm more of the critiquing role,” she said after a USWNT friendly victory over Belgium two months ago in Los Angeles, which Carrasco and their families were on hand to see. “[He can offer insight from] just understanding the game. He sees it in a different way than I do as a forward, so it's always good to hear from him. And playing with Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], he sees [what the Swedish star does] from behind Zlatan, so I can always learn from him.”
There's a thin line there that Carrasco doesn't want to cross.
“I'm not going to go out of my way to tell her that she played poorly,” he said. “And if she did the same thing for me, well, that stuff wouldn't be good for our relationship. She has a lot of people that do that for her, and I have a lot of people who do that for me. Last thing I want is to hear it from the person I love.
“If she wants to talk about, we'll talk about it. If I want to talk about it, we'll talk about it. But soccer's such a huge part of our life, and when we're off the field, we're normal people. We have hobbies. We do stuff. It's almost because her life is encapsulated by soccer, and mine is, too, that sometimes we don't even talk about soccer. But of course, if she ever wants my opinion on something, I give it to her.”