Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan is expected to return to full team training Monday and may be available in some capacity for the NWSL’s fall season, coach Marc Skinner said Friday.
“I think and I hope that we can get Alex into some of these games,” Skinner said. “Depending on how it goes and how she reacts to training.”
Morgan, who is trying to play for the first time since the birth of her son Charlie in May, has been going through individual training sessions with the Pride, per league coronavirus protocols. Skinner said he expected her to resume full training Monday.
“She’s been working really really hard to get back,” Skinner said of Morgan, who documented her return to Orlando with Charlie earlier this week in an Instagram post. “If she has no reaction to any kind of niggles during our training period over the next couple of weeks, then I’m really hopeful we can get her into some of these games. And knowing Alex, the reason she’s training is because she wants to be back on the field.”
He said her status for games would depend on how she reacted physically to training, as well as what he described as unspecified “travel aspects.”
While many stars will be missing when the NWSL begins a seven-week fall schedule this weekend, having either signed with or been loaned to teams abroad, Morgan would lend significant star power if she is able to return to action.
The Pride play their first game at North Carolina on Sept. 19, the second-to-last team to take the field. They play at Houston the following week. Their two home games are Oct. 9 and Oct. 17 against Houston and North Carolina, respectively.
The fall schedule marks the NWSL’s return to in-market games. The Pride did not participate in the summer’s NWSL Challenge Cup after multiple players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus and contact tracing issues made it impossible to travel to the tournament in Utah.
Morgan won the Silver Boot in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, matching U.S. teammate Megan Rapinoe and England’s Ellen White with a tournament-best six goals. She last played for the Pride more than a year ago. She left a game against Chicago on Aug. 21, 2019 after a collision that resulted in a concussion. The team subsequently announced she would miss the remainder of the season due to a patella stress reaction in her right knee relating to a prior injury.
“She looks great,” Skinner said of Morgan. “I’ve put her through some of her paces out on the field and she’s sharp in mind as well as body. We hope she can play some part.”
Skinner also said Friday that Sydney Leroux, who gave birth to her second child last summer and returned to play three months later, was ready for the fall season.
“She looks fantastic,” Skinner said of the 30-year-old Leroux. “She’s in a hungry place again. She’s ready to play, she’s ready to prove to everybody just the player that everybody knows she is but she wants to prove that again.
“If we can get both of them on the field, there aren’t many better forward lines in the league.”
The Pride have a dozen players currently on loan overseas, including U.S. defender Emily Sonnett and regular starters Alanna Kennedy, Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky and first-round pick Taylor Kornieck.