Alex Morgan and her team have a lot of positives to take away from their inaugural NWSL season. In the opening week, they broke the NWSL attendance record with nearly 24,000 fans packed into Camping World Stadium. In the absence of international talent, young players had to step up into new roles and grow their game. And while the team wasn’t able to make the playoffs in their inaugural season, they are ready to continue building and moving forward as they head into their second year.
“Something successful that this team will always remember, this league will always remember is getting almost 24,000 at our opening game,” Morgan said after training on Wednesday. “It was an incredible experience, and it was a big stepping stone for this league. But, I think we have to think of it all as a building block to us becoming a successful club. We have to stay optimistic, and despite the challenges, I feel like we can look back and learn from some mistakes and from things we did well this season, and continue to improve.”
For Morgan, she stepped into the role of team captain in a club with a lot of young players, who needed to play all sorts of different roles. Morgan helped guide them in the right direction, and teach them what it means to be a part of this league. “I grew into more of a captain role and a leadership role [this season], so I’m just trying to continue that,” Morgan said. “We have a lot of rookies this year and we’ll have a lot more next year.”
So, what is Morgan hoping to get out of the team’s last match?
“A perfect ending is a win. We’re always looking for a win,” Morgan said. “I think that would be huge for this team, and make this team end on a high note. It doesn’t matter really the place that we’re ending in, what matters is that we start strong and we finish strong. Since we’ve been out of playoffs that’s kind of been the case, we still want to showcase this team and where we’ve come from the beginning. This game is another chance to do that.”
Next season, the Orlando Pride will be playing in the club’s new stadium. The fans have already played such a critical role in the Pride matches, but next year will give them another opportunity to have an even greater impact.
“My hope is that we continue to grow as a club and we continue to build, the quality on the field continues to get better, and that us and the fans together create this really fun environment,” Morgan said. “And next year is a perfect opportunity to do that with our brand new stadium.”
“It’s an exciting time for this club,” Morgan said. “We’re gonna continue to build on this.”