Alex Morgan's move to England happened under rare circumstances, amid a pandemic and a transfer window that was rapidly closing. When her signing was announced, it immediately elevated the profile of Tottenham Hotspur in the women's game as they look to make an impact in the FA Women's Super League. For the two-time World Cup champion U.S. women's national team forward, it marks a new journey for her and her family.
The 31-year-old California native opened up about how her move to Tottenham right at the end of the transfer window came down to the wire. She also shared some insight in her journey to England, navigating the pandemic as a professional soccer player with her family and her opinions on current National Women's Soccer League talent.
In light of the current pandemic, professional sports in the United States has been fragmented, with positive COVID-19 tests interrupting the regular season. NWSL became the first professional team sports league to return to play with the Challenge Cup over the summer, but the Orlando Pride had to pull out due coronavirus concerns.
For Morgan, who had intentions to participate in the Fall Series with her club, the decision to leave the U.S. for greener pastures came after realizing she'd need more than the potential two-to-four games she'd participate in during the competition. The looming transfer window played a part in her decision-making process, and Tottenham's ability to work on a short-term contract sealed the deal.
"I think I was really lucky to have Spurs be so flexible with the contracts through the season, and that really helped me make a decision on such short notice," Morgan told CBS Sports on Friday ahead of Tottenham's WSL match against Manchester City on Sunday.
"You know, it's kind of a little crazy, initially. The idea of moving when me and my husband found clubs in Florida and were able to live together or within three hours of each other at the very furthest, then going to living in a completely different country. There wasn't another decision like that, [this] was the only decision I could make, and after talking it through -- it was like, this is what has to be done."
The ongoing mishandeling of the pandemic within the United States has played a role in players signing for clubs in other countries. Not to mention, it's a unique and lucrative opportunity for American players to wade into the waters of European club soccer, especially in England where the women's game continues to see more investment.
Morgan is grateful to have her mother-in-law Gloria with her during this transition and she's hopeful her husband Servando can join them in the near future. She knows that not every player is in her position but offered advice to any players looking for a move overseas to push themselves, challenge their surroundings and always make the decision that is best for them within the game.
"For other players looking to maybe play internationally, to uproot themselves or even their families somewhere new, I always encourage challenging yourself and creating a new environment that challenges you and helps you become the best player you can be," she said.
"Look at the growth within the game and what can continue to challenge [you], and if that is staying and training on their own, or with a boy's team, or with their respective NWSL team, or internationally -- each player has to make that decision for themselves."
In light of so many USWNT and NWSL players heading overseas to complete their 2020 seasons, Morgan remains impressed with next wave of domestic talent coming out NWSL among her own Orlando club and across the league and hopes it leads to fuller rosters in the future in the league.
"I'm actually quite impressed with the quality of games because there are a lot of players that either opted out or declined to play internationally, and teams [are] actually quite different, I would say," Morgan said. "So, I myself am learning a lot of new players that I have never seen before or maybe didn't get the chance to play last season or work with this year. Even in Orlando we have such a new squad there that I didn't get a chance to play with some of the players there that got the opportunity to sign for the Fall Series."
Morgan expressed that she always keeps her options open, but reaffirmed that her short-term contract with Tottenham allows her the opportunity to get back to the States to play domestically and continue to grow the NWSL, something she says is of importance to her in her playing career, and feels hopeful for its future.
"It's really exciting that players are able to get a chance to play [who] wouldn't possibly otherwise because of the squads maybe being fuller and players not going to play internationally or opting out. I'm hopeful that next year, maybe NWSL gets back to maybe these 24- or 26-person rosters, and that it's super competitive and that players feel safe and healthy enough to be able to travel across country like we have each year to play all different teams rather than playing in the sort of pods that we were forced to do this year because of the pandemic."