With all due respect to the in-the-hunt-for-a-championship Orlando Pride soccer team, the best action tends to go down after the pros have left the pitch.
That's when Alex Morgan will bring 15-month-old daughter Charlie to run around the field at Exploria Stadium with Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger's 6-month-old daughter Sloane and Sydney Leroux's nearly 5-year-old son Cassius and 2-year-old daughter Roux. "You just put a soccer ball there and they're fighting over," Morgan revealed in a chat with E! News.
Not quite having mastered walking, Sloane is at a bit of a disadvantage, but the rest of the crew is "chasing each other, kicking it," Morgan continued. "It's really fun to see. When our game finishes, then the real game starts."
LFG, indeed. Though that mantra could just as easily apply to Charlie's feelings about the dog park.
One of the toddler's favorite activities is joining Mom, dad Servando Carrasco and their rescue pups Kona and Blue at the neighborhood lakefront dog run. "She just loves watching the dogs play," said Morgan. "So it's a really nice family outing."
And she's certain to get in a trip on Thursday, Aug. 26, the park part of Morgan's celebration plans for National Dog Day, along with "a lot of extra treats and cuddles." Particularly from Charlie who has a habit of going in for at least five minutes of snuggles before bedtime. "I'll put lotion on her after we do bath time and I'll just let her run around in her diaper and then she goes and hugs the dogs and has all their fur on her stomach," Morgan shared. "She likes cuddling them more than she does me!"
Speciality cakes are reserved for Kona and Blue's birthdays, though the three-time Olympian has planned something even sweeter for the smalliday. A year into a partnership with pet food brand Stella & Chewy's that's already seen the 32-year-old California native advocate for the adoption of senior dogs, they're launching a new initiative to give all those good boys and girls the best, uh, doggone day ever.
"They have partnered up with Lucy & Co. to sell a hat that actually says, 'I'd Rather Be With My Dog,'" explained Morgan, "which is probably true for a lot of us dog people."
Proceeds will go to their Journey Home Fund, which focuses on rescuing and rehoming senior pets. "And that's why I love being with the brand," continued Morgan. "They're so passionate about giving back and about doing something for dogs who really don't have a voice to speak up for themselves."
That's pretty much her raison d'être as well, pet advocacy just one of the many causes the striker dribbles in her role as one of sport's most recognized faces.
Not content to just collect World Cup trophies (she's got two) and Olympic medals (a gold and a bronze, the latter captured in Tokyo), earlier this year she launched media company TOGETHXR alongside fellow Olympians Sue Bird, Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel to amplify the stories of female athletes and create a community for the people inspired by those sports stars. "It's been a huge hit," Morgan noted, "but there's still a lot of growth to be had in that space as well."
The same could be said about sports in general, the new mom eager to lead the charge on some outdated norms. Her fight alongside the rest of the U.S. Women's National Team to just be paid the same as the men already is only one of her goals.
Referencing the battle breastfeeding athletes had to wage to bring their kids to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic, Morgan shared, "I actually wasn't even able to bring my daughter Charlie with me and that's something that I want to change in the future. I think that ultimate decision needs to be up to the mother or the parent in general, to bring their young children or not."
Barely three weeks removed from the team's bronze medal finish—and a "perfect" three-day trip to the Florida Keys that saw her ditch the iPhone and "just relax and have some cocktails"—she can't quite wrap her mind around making plans for a return trip to the Games in 2024. "I'm pretty much thrown back into my season with my club team, so as of right now, I'm not thinking about more than 2021 and what I have for the rest of this year," Morgan explained. "And that's trying to win a championship with Orlando Pride."
But it's hard to imagine not wanting another shot after a less-than-golden experience in Tokyo.
Years down the road when she's admiring the spoils of their victory, she acknowledged, "It's never going to mean less than my other medals. But, also, just the experience in general was not the experience that I dreamt of as a kid that I was able to have in 2012."
As amazing as it was to capture the bronze, she continued, "It was really quite sad to be a part of a major tournament like the Olympics, but not get the Olympics feel, necessarily."
For her, the best part of the Games is "being a part of something bigger than your team and that's Team USA and the feel that the world is really coming together to just enjoy sports," she explained. And with all of the very-necessary-but-still-kind-of-a-bummer restrictions in place, the team wasn't able to stay in the Olympic Village, experience crowds of cheering fans or even the in-person support of their loved ones.
"Now, we still came home with some hardware," she said, "and I'm very proud of that. But it just wasn't the same."
With any luck, we'll see her marching into the Opening Ceremony in Paris. But until then, she's focused on making memories with the soccer squad voted people we'd most like to hang out with.
"We have four moms on the team, which is almost unheard of," she noted of Harris, Krieger and Leroux. "There's always strength in numbers. So I feel like it's been great to see just the progress made within the NWSL to support us moms while playing."
And it's fun just to have a crew to kick it with. She's "enjoying the ride with my teammates," she said and absorbing any advice and understanding they have to offer. "We all do have young children, ages 0 through 5," Morgan said. "So it's really fun seeing the different stages and kind of getting together and really enjoying life outside of soccer."
Plus, they've assembled, like, half a roster for the 2043 Women's World Cup.
Charlie is already learning from Mom's expert example. Having attended so many games and post-match free for alls, "She realizes, 'Oh, when it's this big of a ball, I kick it,'" said Morgan, noting her daughter is also grasping that tiny golf balls require the use of her toddler-sized putter.
"If I explain to Charlie things, she just doesn't get it," Morgan acknowledged of the 15-month-old. But there's no deny genetics. "When I do something and I show her," she continued, "she picks it up so easily."
As we were saying, Let's f--king go.