FIFAWWC Countdown: Day 59 - Horan and Morgan to lead USA into "the most competitive World Cup"

On Day 59 of our 70-Day Edge of the Crowd countdown to the much-anticipated FIFA Women’s World Cup, we hear the US co-captains talk about leadership, team environment and kids in camp.

Lindsey Horan and Alex Morgan have been named co-captain for the USA's World Cup campaign. The Olympique Lyon midfielder and San Diego Waves striker will combine to lead the USWNT on their quest to lift the trophy for a third consecutive time, and the duo are taking nothing for granted.

"It's amazing," Horan told the media of the quality in Australia and New Zealand.
"I just saw a game today. It was 3-2, Zambia vs Germany.

"I think it just shows how competitive this World Cup will be. It's up for grabs. I think some of the teams that have been viewed a little bit lower can go out and make a statement.

"It's going to be the most competitive World Cup. Everyone is talking about it; everyone is going to be watching it. If you're not, you're crazy.

"It's going to be insane, and these results right now are going to be showing in the World Cup as well."

After over 100 caps and a World Cup win with the national team, wearing the armband will mean "everything" to the Champions League-winning star, and Horan is glad to be sharing the moment with Morgan.

"It was always a dream and goal of mine to stay a consistent player with the national team, but [also] to be a leader.

"Now, to wear the captain's armband is truly an honour, especially with Alex.
"So, I think, going into this tournament, there is a new responsibility for me.

"It's not just focussing on me and making sure I'm at my best for this team; it's also me and Alex making sure that everyone is prepared and ready and holding a standard, going into every single game prepared.

"The leaders on the last World Cup team prepared me as well. That's the responsibility I hold onto now, so maybe [there's] less nerves just about the tournament but making sure that I'm a role model and gain respect from my teammates."

Morgan echoed those sentiments; a newly unveiled statue of the Wave striker has made her the team's public face, and behind the scenes, the pair will share the load that captaincy brings.

"The goal of being a captain, at least for myself, is that your role doesn't change significantly.

"The way that you approach being a leader or teammate doesn't change significantly.

"There are little things like being an advocate for your teammates, making sure that there's a good line of communication between teammates and coaches, making sure that things just flow more fluidly, and just being a good representative of the team.

"I think that myself and Lindsey already do that. There's a lot of leaders on this team that have already shown that and done that for years.

"Obviously, there's more responsibility for those who wear the captain's armbands. But I think that we're both in the stages of our careers where we're ready for it.

"We have gained the respect of our teammates, and we feel really good and confident of where we are and just very honoured to be captain alongside Lindsey."

A lot has changed for both players since the last World Cup. Horan has conquered European football; She started in the Lyon side that defeated Barcelona in the Champions League final. Morgan has helped launch the San Diego Wave franchise in the NWSL, making the playoff in the first season and drawing massive crowds, and become a mother to three-year-old Charlie.

Charlie has obviously had an impact on Morgan but has also added to the team's culture.  

"I have become a little bit more patient with my daughter and life in general," Morgan reflected.  

"I think the biggest thing about it is, I get to bring my daughter with me on all these trips.

"I get to show her what mom does and surround her with so many strong and confident women.

"My teammates have been so gracious with their time with Charlie, and it's great to see her have so many role models to look up to in-person day after day. that's really special.

"I just love bringing her around. She humanises this environment.

"We're so focussed on training, our upcoming games, our meetings, and to see not only my child but children because we have Crystal [Dunn] and Julie's [Ertz] sons as well come into this environment and just laugh and giggling and throw food and just hug each other.

"It's the sweetest thing. It makes it just a little more light and fun and makes everyone feel a little more human.

"When there's this real pressure-filled environment… Just having kids around puts a smile on everyone's face."

While the USWNT will go into this tournament as one of the favourites, they are not looking too far ahead. The co-captains will be working hard to maintain the standards set by winning the last two World Cups.

"We don't really focus on that aspect," Horan said of past glories.

"We take each tournament at a time; it's the same as we take each game at a time.

"Obviously, the accomplishments of the past were incredible. Winning two World Cups in a row is amazing, we would love a third, but I think that the way that we look at this tournament, it's the future.

"The first game is Vietnam; we take each game at a time. I think that stuff comes at the end where we can celebrate when we'll be hopefully standing on the podium.

"That's been the main thing with this national team; that's why we've held such a high standard, and the level's been so high. We want to be better; we want to grow.

"I think that's every single cycle, every single tournament, every single game, every single training session. It makes me very proud to be on this team."

The USA kick off its campaign against Vietnam on July 22. The team will say farewell to fans in a friendly against Wales on July 9 (local time).

To get the whole experience of Edge of the Crowd's 70-Day Countdown to the FIFA Women's World Cup this July, don't forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Also, don't forget to listen to the Australian World Cup Podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. New episode is out now!