Alex Morgan looking ahead to Olympics knockouts after USWNT's poor group stage

Lizzy Becherano
Alex Morgan during United States v Australia
Alex Morgan during United States v Australia / Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

U.S. women’s national team forward Alex Morgan expressed disappointment after a 0-0 draw against Australia to close out the group stage of the Tokyo Olympics, but claims the quarter-finals is where the tournament truly begins. 

The Americans recorded one win, one draw and one loss to emerge second in the group and qualify for the next round. The reigning World Cup champions appeared disjointed on the pitch once again after failing to build off of the momentum gained during their win against New Zealand. 

"It was a tactical decision by coach Vlatko Andonovski to shift defensively, a little more conservatively, and really allow them to get impatient, play along and give it back to us,” said Morgan. 

“Eventually, I feel like both teams kind of sat in, and it became a matter of playing a professional game and moving on. It's seeing how Vlatko wants us to set up against that [next] team. Tactically we had a little shift in this game, we're experienced enough and professional enough to be able to do so and face a team in a way that puts us on top and really plays to our strengths."

Morgan appeared to net a goal during Monday’s match against Australia before the referee reviewed VAR and marked it offside. Despite the score and recent showings on the pitch, Morgan isn’t concerned about the past.

"This knockout stage is when the tournament starts," she emphatically said.

The United States women’s national team will face the Netherlands on Friday for a spot in the semifinals. 

Andonovski matched Morgan’s energy during the post-match conference, accepting the feeling of failure while remaining positive at the road ahead. 

"Coming into this game, we came with the mindset that the first goal was to win the game, and the second goal was to put a good professional performance in and not get scored on," he said.

"Obviously, we didn't accomplish the first one but we did accomplish the second one, which was very important because ultimately it put us in second place.

"I would say it was actually a good opportunity for me to see whether the team is ready to take on the information that was given and execute it, which I was very happy with. Almost every player on the team had a specific role, and they executed it very good."