As interest in soccer grows in the US, so does the celebrity status of its players. Long gone are the days of the bearded Alexi Lalas, the deadlocked Cobi Jones or the gangly legged Eric Wynalda. In their place, a new crop of exciting players has emerged, with movie star looks and the skills to match. First came Landon Donovan, the US poster boy, who rose to fame firstly with San Jose then later with LA Galaxy, just as interest in the league began to grow. Now the women are taking over with stars like Hope Solo and Sydney Leroux, dazzling with both their skills and their looks. But one player stands above them all and is attracting more than her fair share of the current limelight.
Alexandra Patricia (or Alex for short) Morgan is the US golden girl at the moment. The 23-year-old is setting the women’s game alight with her goals for the US women’s national team, including 3 goals this summer as the US took the gold medal at the London Olympics 2012. Her style of play has led from plaudits from across the football world and she already trying to shake the tag of the next “Mia Hamm”. Morgan, like Hamm is smashing records that are put in front of her and her play this year has earned her a place on the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist alongside fellow US striker Abby Wambach and Brazilian legend Marta. Morgan’s inclusion on this years final three was not a surprise unlike Marta, who some feel hasn’t merited her usual spot on the list, with Canadian Christine Sinclair a more deserving candidate. A win would see Morgan cap a fine year in which she has scored 28 times for her country in a variety of tournaments and been recognised as not only the Breakthrough talent of the year but also the US 2012 Female Athlete of the Year.
But the Morgan phenomenon is not just limited to the pitch. She is also making a huge impact off of it too. Morgan starred in the 2012 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, appearing in a section of athletes in body paint. Her fans are growing daily with over 1 million people following her every move on Twitter and over 760,000 fans on her official Facebook page with more on tribute pages like Alex Morgan Appreciation Society and Alex Morgan, I love you. Brands like Coke, Nike and Panasonic are clambering to sign up Morgan to represent them as they see her appeal to a wider demographic, not just soccer fans. Her stint at this years Olympics only helped to bolster the Morgan brand which grows on a daily basis with each magazine article, news feature, tv interview and tweet that Alex does.
Fifa is due to announce the winner of the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on the 7th January 2013 with Morgan likely to pick up the trophy. If she does, it will cap a fantastic year for the girl from California and will add yet another first for Morgan. Alex is still in the early part of her career but has shown the potential to become one of the greatest female player the world has ever seen.