By Rory Carroll
GARDENA, Calif. (Reuters) – Alex Morgan, co-captain of U.S. women’s national team, said she plans to play at the Tokyo Olympics even though the Games will take place just three months after she is due to give birth to her first child in April.
“It’s my goal to play there,” Morgan told Reuters in an interview.
“It’s clearly a short window but if I’m able to, I want to be there representing my country.”
Morgan and her husband Servando Carrasco last month announced that they were expecting a daughter.
It has certainly been a busy year for the Southern California striker.
In March she joined her team mates in suing their employer, U.S. Soccer, arguing that the women’s team was underpaid compared to their less successful male counterparts.
The 30-year-old, who scored six goals during her team’s charge toward a fourth World Cup title, said she hoped the lawsuit can be settled out of court even though a trial date has been set.
“It’s moving quickly,” she said.
“We’re having updates every week and we have the trial set for May, so we are absolutely hoping to have it resolved before the Olympics. But the sooner, the better,” she said.
She said the legal battle did not interfere with the team’s focus.
“The lawsuit isn’t necessarily a distraction but it’s something that needs to happen for us to value ourselves properly,” she said.
“Our employer is not doing the same.”
The women’s team has also won four Olympic golds.
Morgan, who is also a forward for the Orlando Pride, spoke to Reuters following the unveiling of a $100,000 mini-soccer pitch in Gardena, a low-income area in Los Angeles County.
She said the 84 feet x 40 feet acrylic pitch, which was paid for by sports drink company Powerade and carries Morgan’s signature on it, will help to hone the skills of the next generation.
The U.S. Soccer Foundation has so far installed 250 mini-pitches in urban areas around the country. The goal is to install 1,000 by 2026.
“I even struggle to get access to a field sometimes, which is crazy to say. So to be able to open a pitch in my community in the Los Angeles area was great,” she said.
“To give safe access to the sport and more access is incredible.
“I want soccer to be the biggest sport in the U.S. and the way the youth soccer trend is going right now, it cuts out the lower half of the income classes.”
“So to be able to provide this pitch in more of an undeserved area is so amazing.”
Morgan said she can even envision her own daughter taking advantage of the opportunity one day.
“Being a mom-to-be, it’s incredible to know that children like mine will have access to this.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)