Can the Orlando Pride Stay on Top Without Alex Morgan?

Morgan will depart to join the USWNT ahead of the Summer Olympics.

By Savannah Moore

Over a month into the NWSL regular season the Orlando Pride remain atop the standings, against all odds. Prior to the 2021 season the Pride only had one postseason appearance in franchise history. A major reason for the team’s recent success has been the return of superstar Alex Morgan.

Morgan returned to the Pride in 2021 after spending 2019 split between her international duties and being pregnant with her first child. Morgan gave birth in May of 2020, and opted not to play in the NWSL Fall Series, instead going across the pond to join Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Women’s Super League. Morgan explained that she chose to play in England in order to regain strength post pregnancy, and to be ready for the Olympic Games. Fans can now see that the decision is paying off.

Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan
SOURCE: Orlando Pride

On April 21, 2021, during the NWSL Challenge Cup, Morgan made her first appearance for the Pride in nearly two years. She made an immediate impact by registering an assist on the game’s only goal. It was in the regular season that Morgan would really be in elite form. 

Morgan became the first player in NWSL history to score a goal in each of a team’s first four games and was awarded Player of the Month for only the second time in her career for her efforts. By the end of May, the Pride had vaulted to the top of the standings with a record of 3–0–1.

Morgan and the Pride have maintained their high level of play throughout June. The team still only suffered one loss eight games into the season, but now they must venture forward without Morgan, who will once again depart ahead of the Olympics due to international duties.

Luckily, it hasn’t been a one woman show for the Pride this season. Two notable omissions from the USWNT Olympic roster were two of the Pride’s captains, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger. Though being left off the roster was disappointing, the captains will have the opportunity to keep their team unbeaten during Morgan’s absence.

Another key part of the Pride’s current success is the stellar play of Sydney Leroux. Leroux inked a three year max deal earlier this year, and so far it seems it was worth every penny. Leroux has generated MVP buzz of her own as she currently is tied with her teammate, Alex Morgan, for the most goals scored in the NWSL this season.

Even without Morgan, the Pride still have several of the pieces that have led them to the scorching start, but can they keep it up?

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