They are separated by thousands of miles on the map, but often it’s like Sounders FC midfielder Servando Carrasco and Western New York Flash forward Alex Morgan are living the same life.
They both have similar schedules as professional soccer players - Carrasco in Major League Soccer and Morgan in Women’s Professional Soccer. They both learn from players on a daily basis who have plenty to teach about their respective positions - Osvaldo Alonso for Carrasco while Morgan learns from Marta with her club and Abby Wambach with her country.
The 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
The college sweethearts from Cal have used their similar experiences to strengthen their relationship, even when they are the full width of the country apart.
“We spent almost four years in college together and we knew this was coming. We were prepared for it,” said Morgan. “We are both trying to live our dreams as professional athletes. We know each other’s schedules and we respect that.”
Carrasco added, “I think that’s one of the reasons why our transition from college to pro soccer has been easy for our relationship. We’re in the same lifestyle and we’re able to talk every now and then, so it’s good.”
The similarities don’t end there though.
Both are very outgoing and driven. Most of all they are both highly competitive.
“We can’t play Monopoly or any other board games because she hates to lose,” he said with a smile. “We stay away from things like that. It’s better for our relationship and for our future.”
Where they differ though is that Carrasco is a sarcastic prankster, while Morgan plays his perfect complement as an admittedly gullible recipient of many of his jokes.
“You have to get used to his sarcasm. That keeps me on my toes because I am gullible,” she said. “He plays with that and that’s not fair, but I’ve learned to stay on my toes around him.”
However, Carrasco will have to forgive his longtime girlfriend if she’s a bit out of reach for his jokes over the next several weeks. She left on Tuesday for Austria, where she will train with the US National Team in preparation for the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, which starts June 28 for the US against North Korea.
With seven goals in 19 appearances, she is earning her keep on the international level too. She will play with a strong US squad with plenty of experience and a winning history, having triumphed in the 2008 Olympics
After losing 4-0 to Brazil in the World Cup final in 2007, they will be looking to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since 1999 and Morgan thinks they have the team to do it.
“We have a lot of experience on this team. I’m one of very few who haven’t been to one of the big tournaments,” she said. “Christie Rampone and Abby Wambach have been great inspirations to me and they‘ve helped mentor me both on the field and off the field. That experience will help lead us to the final.”
With so many talented forwards, Morgan has had plenty of opportunity to learn her position while also adding her own flare to the game. Much like Carrasco with Alonso in Seattle, she even pairs with her mentor on occasions.
“She embraces it. She’s learned so much from the players in front of her and when she plays with Abby Wambach they have great chemistry. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for the team and if she ends up starting a couple games, that’s going to be amazing too,” he said.
So when the World Cup kicks off next week, Carrasco, for one, will be watching with pride in Seattle.
“We’re all extremely proud of her. To be playing in the World Cup when you’re 21 years old is an amazing accomplishment,” said Carrasco, admitting that he wouldn’t be watching if Morgan wasn’t on the team. “Now that my girlfriend is playing in the World Cup, I’ll be watching. Whether it’s 5 o’clock in the morning or any other time.”