United States women’s national team and Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan has said she is “frustrated” and “disappointed” by the scheduling of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup which sees its opening two games collide with an international FIFA window.
Morgan and several other of the NWSL’s biggest stars are in USWNT camp in Sweden ahead of their game on Saturday before travelling to France for their second friendly on April 13.
This schedule means they will miss the opening games of the league’s Challenge Cup tournament — a new schedule fixture which was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic last year but has been retained by the league due to its success.
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“We’re going to do everything we can to support our teammates. I think it is really frustrating to not be there in general,” Morgan told a news conference on Friday.
“I’ve been in Orlando for six plus weeks now for preseason since the end of the SheBelieves Cup so to be putting in the work day in, day out like the rest of my national team teammates and then to be pulled away, not to be pulled away, but to have the Challenge Cup scheduled in a FIFA window is really disappointing.
“So we’re going to do our part to support our team as much as possible and get back there and I’ll be there for the third game. Unfortunately that’s just the situation that it is.
“Speaking to Sweden and this game, I’m very excited for this game and hopefully I can support Orlando as much as possible in their first game.”
Orlando Pride travel to face new expansion side Racing Louisville in their first game of the tournament on Saturday before facing Gotham FC (formerly Sky Blue) on April 14.
While the previous Challenge Cup saw players bubbled together for a month in Utah, this version sees teams travelling with the 10 sides split into east and west divisions. The winner of each group will face each other in the final on May 8.
The USWNT’s preparations for the friendlies against Sweden and France haven’t been entirely smooth with the up-and-coming Catarina Macario forced to pull out due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Lyon squad.
The games are one of the final opportunities for coach Vlatko Andonovski to gather his squad together before he decides on the final Olympics roster. However, he said he is not concerned by her absence or the lack of playing time Rose Lavelle is receiving at club level with Manchester City.
“The fact is, she [Macario] is playing on good team and has regular minutes there makes the job [of evaluating her] somewhat easier,” he added.
“Would I want to see Rose on the field more with Man City? Yes. Do I think she deserves more time? Absolutely. She’s one of the best players in the world.”