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Originally published Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 10:02 PM

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Sounders' Alex Morgan and Servando Carrasco are a perfect soccer match

In a short period of time, they have become Seattle's first couple of soccer. For the first time since their college days at California, Morgan and Carrasco are playing in the same city.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Hattrick, uhh... it's Miss Morgan and Mr Carrasco. MORE
Pretty special time in their lives. A trade could bring it all crashing down. Hopefully... MORE
It is great to have them both here. Alex has a very bright future ahead of her. ... MORE

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TUKWILA — After the Women's World Cup, after Alex Morgan had scored the kind of goals at the kind of moments that lift a person's Q rating from tepid to white hot, she and her boyfriend, Servando Carrasco, had a short conversation about how the events in her life could change their lives.

At 22, Morgan was the youngest player on the United States women's team and the breakout star of the 2011 World Cup. Coming off the bench, she scored the clinching goal in a 3-1 semifinal win over France, then scored the first goal and assisted on Abby Wambach's goal in the championship loss to Japan.

When she got home, Morgan was invited to talk shows. She attended galas, threw out the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game. And she posed in this year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Life was happening quickly.

"We talked about the attention I was getting and the interviews he was having to do about me, which I can understand would get frustrating," Morgan said Wednesday night before a Sounders Women's practice. "We had that one conversation and ever since then, it's been fine.

"We're still the same people, heart and soul. We do the same things, have the same personalities, no matter what the media thinks of me or him. I don't think our lives have changed at all. We're still a couple of individuals who are trying to make our mark on soccer."

It's not like Morgan invited all of this attention. When she scored those goals, she didn't raise her fists in the air and scream, "At last I'm going to get a shot to be in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue."

But there's that deadly quick-strike foot. And the impeccable timing. And that smile that you could play a night game under. We'll see a lot of that smile in the run-up to the London Olympics.

"I've been able to do some amazing things after the World Cup," she said. "I've been really happy with where soccer has led me. But at the same time I need to look back and know the main reason why I'm going to these events, why I'm in the Sports Illustrated issue, and it's all because of how hard I worked this past 15 years to get to where I am today.

"I mean, I loved being in Sports Illustrated and going to these events and meeting a lot of soccer players and celebrities, but it's nothing without thinking back and knowing that soccer's always going to be the main priority."

Well, soccer and Servando, whom the Sounders chose with the 27th overall pick in the 2011 MLS Superdraft. In a short period of time, they have become Seattle's first couple of soccer. For the first time since their college days at California, Morgan and Carrasco are playing in the same city.

After the domestic Women's Professional Soccer league folded, Carrasco started lobbying for Morgan to come to Seattle and play for the Sounders Women. They could be together, he said, and wear the same jerseys. They could watch each other's games.

It was a lucky collision of circumstances. Carrasco ran the idea past the team's general manager, Amy Carnell. It was too good to pass up. This season, five U.S. national team members — Megan Rapinoe, Stephanie Cox, Sydney Leroux, Hope Solo and Morgan — are playing for the Sounders' W-League team amid their preparation for the Olympics.

"It kind of came out of the blue," Carrasco, 23, said. "We're fortunate to be together now. We never thought this was a possibility."

Morgan played her first game for the Sounders on Monday night at Starfire. The next night, midfielder Carrasco played in a Sounders Reserves game at the same venue.

"Putting on that jersey on Monday night was almost a surreal moment," Morgan said. "It just felt right and I almost couldn't believe it that we were wearing the same jersey."

Both say their relationship helps their soccer, and their soccer helps their relationship.

"Throughout college we could always share the experiences, the ups and downs that are sports," Carrasco said. "There's an impermanence in sports. One day you're winning and you're on top of the world, scoring three goals, and the next day you're losing two-zero. Having someone to share that experience — like when you're down, either her or me is able to stay positive. That's the reason why we continue to grow as a couple."

They've been together for more than four years.

"We understand each other so well," Morgan said.

They appear to be the kind of couple that is together for the long haul.

"In my eyes, she's the same girl that I met in college. Nothing's changed in our relationship," Carrasco said. "We're going to be together for a very long time. She's a very down-to-earth girl. She doesn't let all of the attention get to her.

"She's been so successful lately, but she still has that same work ethic. The sky's the limit for her, and I think the Olympics coming up is going to be a great stage for her. I'm sure she's going to do some amazing things this summer. There's a lot of opportunities coming up for her and I'm extremely proud of her."

Carrasco was in the stands Monday. Morgan was there Tuesday. They watch the games with a critical eye. They offer suggestions and critiques that, they say, are part of the healthy honesty of their relationship.

"We definitely criticize each other. I'm not going to lie," he said. "I think she takes the criticism pretty well. It's little things that during a game she might not see. Runs that she could have made. Runs that maybe she forced.

"But it's always positive criticism. I never tell her she could have played better or anything like that. I know better than that. I think we're a very honest couple. Whenever she has a criticism for me, I try to take it well."

Morgan hasn't had much to say about her boyfriend's play lately, which he takes as a good sign.

"I think that I criticize him more than he does me, because that's how my dad's always been with me," Morgan said. "I do criticize his play a little bit here and there and try to analyze his game a little bit. I don't know if he likes it so much."

On Tuesday, as Carrasco lined up a free kick from 30 yards out, Morgan, watching from the stands, said she felt butterflies.

At that moment, she wasn't a celebrity, she wasn't a star. She was Servando Carrasco's girlfriend, wishing he could thunder a shot past the Portland keeper.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com

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