LOS ANGELES - "It all started on these fields, local parts of Diamond Bar and continued at Diamond Bar High School." That’s Diamond Bar High School girls' soccer coach Matt Franco, recalling the gritty rise of Alex Morgan, co-captain of the U.S. Women National Soccer Team. Morgan and her teammates are seeking to carve out a storied piece of history by winning a third consecutive World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer.
But to understand Morgan's success one needs to understand her past. Morgan played for the American Youth Soccer Organization during her days growing up in the San Gabriel Valley. This week, FOX 11 joined a scrimmage between a local club soccer team and the Diamond Bar AYSO Spring Team. Families came out to cheer on their girls, younger siblings in tow. The young players told FOX 11 that Morgan was their hero. They feel a special connection to her because Morgan played for the AYSO team just like them.
"She started in fifth grade. To start that late, it inspires other girls as well," said Yesennia Flores.
Coach Franco currently coaches at Morgan’s alma mater, Diamond Bar High. But back in the day, when Morgan was competing locally, he actually coached against her. He said her rise to stardom was not exactly overnight. She exhibited a strong work ethic in Diamond Bar, and later in college at the University of California, Berkeley where she was the top scorer.
As Morgan and her teammates chase history in New Zealand, you can be sure 6,000 miles away in Diamond Bar, young soccer players will be glued to their screens. To them, she’s already won their hearts.
When it comes to potentially coaching the next Alex Morgan, Coach Franco said that "Girls are easier to coach. They listen. They take longer to see development, but once it clicks, it's encouraging." He added that, "Not all will be superstars. Learning to be a good teammate, a good daughter, that's more important."