Alex Morgan glad to back in Portland playing for Thorns

Star will play in Thorns' match against Kansas City

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND -- Alex Morgan could have taken Tuesday off.

After scoring two goals in the United States 3-0 exhibition win on Sunday over Canada at Toronto, she could have taken an extra day to recover from the competition and the travel.

But Morgan was eager to return to Portland and prepare for the Thorns FC's match on Thursday against FC Kansas City. So she was ready to go when the Thorns hit Jeld-Wen Field for a 10 a.m. practice Tuesday.

"Physically, I'm a little fatigued. But I was immediately excited to be back on the field. I think adrenaline kind of takes a little bit," she said following a practice in which she sat out some of the work to rest her legs.

"I'm ready to play with the Thorns again. I think you'll see in the game that it doesn't take much to be connected again."

Morgan, Christine Sinclair, Rachel Buehler, and Karina LeBlanc spent last week on national team duty, missing Sunday's 2-0 loss to Chicago. All but Sinclair were back with the Thorns Tuesday, and all are expected to play on Thursday.

Morgan said that the National Women's Soccer League -- and Portland in particular -- were a hot topic among the national team players during last week's training camp leading up to Sunday's match. Morgan said there was a lot of interest in what it's like to play in Portland.

"I feel lucky, because I'm out there and telling (national team players) that yes, this is the best organization, this is the best city to play for," Morgan said.

While Portland is drawing more than 10,000 fans a game, the atmosphere is much different in the seven other NWSL stadiums.

Morgan said fellow national team players who are in the NWSL look forward to playing in Portland.

But wherever they landed in the NWSL, Morgan said her teammates on the national team are happy for the opportunity to get regular training and competition without having to play in Europe.

"As national team players, we're trying to find where we can take on responsibility and help continue to grow the game and help continue to make fans come to our games," Morgan said.

Morgan said that the key to helping the NWSL survive is to keep communication open among the players, the coaches and the U.S. Soccer Federation so that the focus of the NWSL stays on making the quality of soccer as high as possible.

The NWSL is the third try for a professional women's soccer league in America, and many of the current national team players played in Women's Pro Soccer, which formed in 2009 with seven teams, and folded in 2012.

"We have a lot of players who played WPS who went over to Europe," Morgan said. "For us now, it's (about) continuing to grow the players that are on the NWSL teams, and making sure through the national team that we're getting what we need in practices and games here so we can be the best players for the upcoming World Cup."