'I want to be an impact player': Morgan Andrews' road to Boston, USWNT return
CARSON, Calif. -- It’s been a busy five weeks for Morgan Andrews.
The 21-year-old midfielder was a key figure in the University of Southern California’s run to a second NCAA national championship in school history in December. She was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to college soccer’s best player (Kadeisha Buchanan won the award), and on Friday, she was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, heading to her hometown team, the Boston Breakers. (Andrews grew up in Milford, New Hampshire, and attended Breakers games as a kid when the team played in the now defunct Women’s United Soccer Association.)
Not to be forgotten is Andrews’ return to the U.S. national team system for the first time in over two years, an important step in the process of her ultimate goal of being an impact player for the United States women’s national team.
Andrews – the captain of the U.S.’ U-17 World Cup team in 2012 – was surprisingly left off the United States’ U-20 roster for the 2014 World Cup, and didn’t return to the program until this month, with the U-23 team.
During that time, Andrews transferred out of Notre Dame after two years and rediscovered her game at USC, ultimately winning a championship. She gave a shout-out to her teammates on stage on Thursday after being picked – “without you, I wouldn’t be here” – as she spoke with the Breakers’ scarf draped over her shoulders (after a selfie with NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush).
FourFourTwo USA caught up with Andrews at the rain-soaked fields of the StubHub Center during U-23 camp, as well as at the NWSL College Draft. Andrews discussed her circuitous path to this point, and what lies ahead:
You just won an NCAA championship with USC, and now you’re turning professional and back in camp with the United States and the U-23s. What’s this stretch been like for you?
Morgan Andrews: It’s been a roller coaster for sure. It’s been a journey, but one of the best ones that I think I’ll have. I’m just excited to be back in the U.S. Soccer system, first of all, and then going into the pro draft is just a dream come true. That’s pretty cliché to say, but it’s one of those things that you wrote on your middle school projects growing up, so it’s exciting.
What has that been like for you, to not have been in the national team program for two years and to now return?
Andrews: It’s been a little bit crazy, but at the same time it has humbled me, not being in the system. Getting the call back up, it’s given me a bit of confidence to keep pursuing what I want to do with life. At the same time, I’m glad that I’ve had the struggles, because it makes success like winning the national championship a little bit sweeter. I’m just happy to be here.
Happy is a good word. It seems like you have been happy on the field and able to express yourself freely. Has it felt that way? Is there a monkey off the back?
Andrews: A little bit. I think through the years I’ve matured, and that is what has also given me the confidence. I’m just learning to enjoy the game and every culture that comes with it. If that comes from switching schools, if that comes from just traveling around the world – playing with different players, I’ve matured, I’ve grown up and I’ve become happier.
What’s the goal coming into the professional ranks?
Andrews: I have long-term goals, I have short-term goals, but you know, the goal that is every day is to improve. I want to keep getting better. I don’t want to just be a professional player; I want to be an impact player on [the Breakers], but also on the national team, so I’m going to just keep working.
And the senior national team is the end goal for you?
Andrews: Absolutely. I want to be at the next level as soon as possible.
Where do you see yourself playing in this next stage of your game? Attacking midfield?
Andrews: I’ll play wherever the coach needs me. At the same time, I’m very comfortable in that 10 position. I love being on the attacking side of things, but I think I have strength in the 8 position and maybe the 6. I do like to play those long-range passes and I think those are showcased a little bit more in the holding mid position. But, as I’ve learned throughout these two years, I do like to play in the attacking mid position. I’ll play wherever the team needs me.
You're headed to Boston now. What are your feelings on joining the Breakers, a team close to your hometown?
Andrews: This is a movement and I’m looking forward to having an impact on the professional level, not just being a professional player, but having an impact on the field, having an impact for Boston. I’ll be part of the community. It’s always been a small – I’m a small-town girl from New Hampshire and I’m heading back to the community.
What’s it say that Boston is building for the long-term through this draft?
Andrews: We’ve always been a program that has a long history, but we want to bring it back to the prestigious program that it was once before. We’re really excited to do that. Thanks to Rose and the rest of the players that will soon be picked, it’s exciting.