There are plenty of talking points coming out of the United States women's national team's nervy 2-1 win over Spain in the round of 16 of the FIFA Women's World Cup in France on Monday. The team had some costly errors in the final third and a blooper that led to Spain's only goal, which snapped a shutout streak that lasted 647 minutes and dated back to April. But one of the biggest concerns of the day was the health of star forward Alex Morgan.
Morgan, who was subbed out at halftime of the final match of the group stage against Sweden, was cleared to play on Monday against Spain by coach Jill Ellis, yet Morgan never really got into the game. She was on the ground more often than not, and when it looked like she would get a chance to score the winning goal when the U.S. was awarded a second penalty kick late in the second half with the game tied, Eliis opted to go with the hot hand in Megan Rapinoe.
After the match, Morgan discussed the win, how physical the game was and why she didn't take the penalty kick.
“It was incredible to see the heart of this team. We haven't been tested like this for a while.”@alexmorgan13 talks with @Alex_Curry about today's win, that final penalty, and looks ahead to France ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/cRLAc5yOxp— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 24, 2019
"It was pretty incredible to see the heart of this team. I think we haven't been tested like this in a while," Morgan told Fox Sports.
Morgan was kneed in the back, pushed down time and time again and not given an inch to move as Spain opted for an overly physical gameplan. Morgan said she thinks she was fouled in the double digits.
"Yeah, it was difficult. I thought that it was worthy of some yellow cards," she said. "I'm pretty sure that I got fouled in the double digits. Got a good crack of my back, so I don't need the [chiropractor) anymore. It was a challenging one for me."
Rapinoe took the first penalty to give the Americans a quick 1-0 lead. Morgan had the ball in her hands when the second penalty was awarded to the U.S., but during the VAR (video assistant referee) check, she handed it off to Rapinoe. She explained that that was Ellis' call.
"[Rapinoe] gave me the ball, but it's ultimately the coach's decision. The ball went back to [Rapinoe], and it went in the back of the net."
A game to forget for her, for sure. Now, it's time to rest and prepare for France on Friday at 3 p.m. ET -- stream via fuboTV (Try for free). The U.S. will certainly feel quite sore after this one, Morgan especially, so they'll get their minds and bodies right and look to advance to yet another World Cup semifinal.