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Alex Morgan’s Olympic return from pregnancy supported by new U.S. soccer coach

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NEW YORK — New U.S. women’s soccer coach Vlatko Andonovski and general manager Kate Markgraf are already taking steps to support Alex Morgan‘s goal to return from an April due date and make the Olympic team as a mom to play in late July.

“The most important thing is to have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby,” Andonovski said in a press conference to introduce him as Jill Ellis‘ successor. “When she does that, we’re going to do everything in our power, use the resources that the federation is providing, whether it’s high-performance director, staff, anything that we can do on our side to help her get back for the Olympics.”

Morgan, a star forward on the last five combined Olympic and World Cup teams, said on Wednesday that she is pregnant and due in April, three months before the Tokyo Games.

A source close to Morgan then said that her goal is to come back from childbirth to make her third Olympic team.

Markgraf, who came back from childbirth to make her third and final Olympic team in 2008, said she texted Morgan the name of the trainer who helped her return.

“As a former player that gave birth twice during my career, I know that the first thing on your mind is just having a healthy baby, so that is really where I positioned the conversation [with Morgan] the entire time,” she said. “I was like, let me know what I can do to help. Just stay healthy. Don’t worry about anything else other than having a healthy baby, and then we’ll have a conversation. … Give everybody the best chance to be their best is what we try to do.”

Morgan will miss the U.S.’ Olympic qualifying tournament, but that wouldn’t normally rule her out of the Olympic roster consideration.

In 2016, three players who were not part of qualifying were chosen for the Olympic roster — Megan Rapinoe (missed qualifying with an ACL tear), Whitney Engen and Allie Long.

The 2020 Olympic team selection procedures have not been published on U.S. Soccer’s website, but for the 2012 and 2016 Games, the head coach had final say in composition of the 18-player team. The World Cup roster size is 23.

Joy FawcettChristie RamponeCarla Overbeck and Markgraf made Olympic teams as moms, all doing so at least one year after childbirths.

MORE: Rio Olympic women’s soccer champions fail to qualify for Tokyo

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Alex Morgan is pregnant, still eyes Tokyo Olympics

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Alex Morgan, a star forward on the last two U.S. Olympic soccer teams, is pregnant and due with her first child, a girl, in April, three months before the Tokyo Games, according to her social media.

A source close to Morgan said, after the pregnancy announcement, that her goal is to play at the Olympics. Morgan has not stated her intention publicly either way since the announcement.

Morgan, 30, married fellow pro soccer player Servando Carrasco on New Year’s Eve 2014.

Morgan co-led the U.S. in goals at this summer’s World Cup (six) and the Rio Olympics (two), where the Americans were eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals.

Morgan also scored three goals in her Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games, including the game winner in the 123rd minute of a 4-3 semifinal overtime win against Canada.

Morgan would not be the first mom to play on a U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Defender Joy Fawcett played every minute of the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups and the 1996 and 2000 Olympics as a mom. Carla Overbeck became a mom before making her second Olympic team in 2000, though she did not play in any matches in Australia.

Most recently, Kate Markgraf played in the 2008 Olympics as a mom, and Christie Pearce Rampone did so in 2008 and 2012.

MORE: Rio Olympic women’s soccer champions fail to qualify for Tokyo

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Michelle Akers’ Olympic, World Cup gold medals being auctioned

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Michelle Akers‘ gold medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games, where women’s soccer debuted at the Olympics, is being auctioned from Sept. 23-Oct. 19 on GoldinAuctions.com.

The collection includes 60 lots of memorabilia consigned by the Hall of Famer, including all of her major tournament gold medals — 1991 World Cup, 1996 Olympics and 1999 World Cup.

It also includes her 1996 Olympic final match-worn jersey and shorts. The catalog, consigned by Akers, will be posted online on Sept. 22, according to Goldin.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Michelle Akers Horse Rescue and Outreach Foundation.

Akers previously put memorabilia up for auction on eBay in 2015, though it’s unclear whether the Olympic and World Cup medals were among the items and, if so, if they were sold.

Akers played 153 matches for the U.S. from its inception in 1985, scoring its first goal, through 2000. She retired as its second-leading goal scorer with 107 behind Mia Hamm. She is now tied for fifth with Alex Morgan behind Abby Wambach, Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Carli Lloyd.

At the 1996 Atlanta Games, a 30-year-old Akers was the second-oldest U.S. player to see match action. She received regular post-match IVs to combat a blood pressure disorder associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. “I consider this an out and out miracle,” she said of the gold medal.

Akers made the 2000 Olympic team, where she would have been the oldest player of the tournament, but retired two weeks before the Games, needing shoulder surgery. Akers also underwent at least a dozen knee surgeries in her career.

She was named FIFA Player of the Century along with Chinese Sun Wen in 2002.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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