Most USMNT fans fondly remember the Snow Clasico of 2013, but how many fans remember the USWNT’s first-ever snow game, in which Alex Morgan made her national team debut?
Almost three years before the men’s national team beat Costa Rica 1-0 in a ridiculously snowy World Cup qualifier in Colorado, the USWNT played Mexico in a friendly in front of 3,732 fans on March 31, 2010, at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The Americans prevailed 1-0 that blustery night, and Morgan made her USWNT debut at the age of 20.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) March 31, 2020
In March of 2010, Alex Morgan was still a college student and star soccer player for the Cal Golden Bears. Morgan had yet to appear for the senior national team, though she won the Silver Ball at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2008, a tournament the Americans won, with Sydney Leroux claiming the Golden Ball and Golden Boot.
Morgan was the only non-professional player called into the USWNT for two friendlies against Mexico to open 2010. The U.S. beat Mexico 3-0 three days prior in sunny, 79-degree San Diego, but Morgan was one of two unused substitutes left on the bench.
The weather was markedly different as the team traveled to Utah for a second friendly. Snow fell throughout the morning and afternoon, and by the 7 p.m. kickoff, a steady snowfall was accompanied by 34-degree temperatures.
Never before in its 26-year, 443-game history had the USWNT played in snow.
This was the time USWNT coach Pia Sundhage chose to give Morgan her debut, putting her on in place of Amy Rodriguez at halftime.
“I am from Southern California, I have never played in snow in my life and they put me in in the second half and right away my feet went numb,” Morgan recalled years later. “I felt like I had nubs at the end of my legs. I didn’t know how to play in the snow.”
Despite being new to playing in snow, Morgan helped the U.S. secure a 1-0 win.
Abby Wambach scored in the 60th minute off an assist from Shannon Boxx, prompting the players to celebrate by making snow angels. The goal was the 105th of Wambach’s career, equaling Michelle Akers for third on the USWNT’s all-time list. Wambach would go on to set the record for international goals, a mark that stood until earlier this year when Canada’s Christine Sinclair broke her record.
The snow match against Mexico was also one of Kristine Lilly’s final appearances for the USWNT. The all-time leader in international caps — and it’s not even close — made her 344th of 354th appearances that night in Utah, her first start in nearly three years. The official write-up from U.S. Soccer said Lilly “did some fine work down the left wing despite the ever-deepening snow drifts on the flanks.”
The cold never bothered us anyway pic.twitter.com/6s834IqStP— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) March 31, 2020
Despite the debut and victory, it took a few days for Morgan to recover from the cold.
“We ended winning, which was great, and we did snow angels and it was awesome, but I couldn’t feel my feet for like five days after that game,” Morgan said.
It’s been 10 years since her USWNT debut and in that time Morgan has become a legend, winning an Olympic gold medal in 2012 and Women’s World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. She’s twice been named U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year, having scored 107 goals in 169 caps. At 30, she could conceivably catch Sinclair to set the all-time international scoring record.
But before Morgan takes the pitch again, she’ll be giving birth to her first child, expected to arrive in April.
Morgan had originally planned to get back in shape in time for the 2020 Olympics, but with the Tokyo Games having been pushed back to 2021, she’ll have plenty of time with her new baby before she has to get back on the field.