Jan. 7, 2013
ZURICH, Switzerland - California alumna Alex Morgan was one of three finalists for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award, becoming the first former Golden Bear to achieve that top-three status. However, the world governing body of soccer named Abby Wambach, her U.S. teammate, as the recipient of the game's top individual accolade on Monday during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala at Kongresshaus Zurich.
Wambach collected 20.67 percent of the votes to beat former five-time FIFA award winner Marta of Brazil (13.50 percent) and Morgan (10.87 percent) for the honor.
"I'm so happy for Abby for all the work she has put into this team and into the sport," Morgan said. "She's so completely deserving of this award, and I'm truly happy for her. She's made such a huge mark on women's soccer over the past decade. She's an inspiration to not only the thousands of young girls around the country and world, but also to me."
Pia Sundhage - Morgan and Wambach's former coach with the United States - claimed the FIFA World Coach of the Year Award on Monday.
"To be invited to the Ballon d'Or is a special achievement and well deserved for Alex," Cal head coach Neil McGuire said. "There is no doubt her time will come. Congratulations to Abby, Pia and Lionel (Messi, the FIFA Ballon d'Or winner) - all outstanding talents and worthy winners."
Morgan, who roamed the Edwards Stadium pitch from 2007-2010, had an amazing season in which she won an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. National Team and bested Wambach to earn the U.S. Soccer Player of the Year Award in December. Morgan became just the second former Bear - including Joy (Biefeld) Fawcett - to win the U.S. honor.
One of Cal's all-time great players, Morgan cemented her rise to the top level of the sport with her play over the past two years, which included a runner-up finish with the U.S. in the 2011 FIFA World Cup. The forward led all U.S. scorers in 2012 with 28 goals, which ranked third-best all time in a calendar year behind Wambach (31 in 2004) and Michelle Akers (39 in 1991). Morgan also led the U.S. with 21 assists and 77 points in 2012.
She made a huge impact on the U.S. team's run to the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where she scored the winning goal in the semifinal match against Canada in the third and final minute of extra time at the end of the second overtime period, sending the United States to the gold-medal match against Japan. It was the latest goal ever scored in a FIFA competition. In the final - a 2-1 win against Japan - Morgan assisted on a Carli Lloyd header for the first U.S. goal. Morgan scored three goals and had four assists in her first Olympic Games, also scoring twice against France.