Orlando Pride's forward Alex Morgan is leaving the team temporarily to play the first half of 2017 with the French team Olympique Lyonnais
during the European season.
Morgan, who is also the star forward for the U.S. Women’s National Team, will return to the Pride in May to finish out the National Women's Soccer League season, according to a statement released by the team
. Morgan and several teammates on the national team are currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement
with U.S. Soccer that expires on Dec. 31.
"My decision to play for Lyon was not an easy one, but it is an important step in my evolution as a player," Morgan says in a statement
. "I want to thank the Pride and our incredible fans and community for their continued support. I look forward to returning home this summer as a better player and leader to join my teammates at our new stadium as we compete for a NWSL Championship."
In a longer piece for The Players' Tribune
, Morgan writes that she the change will push her game to another level.
"I want to be the best player in the United States...the best player in the world," she writes. "So, as much as I love living and training and playing in Orlando, I’ve decided to take a huge risk and bet on myself."
Phil Rawlins, Orlando City Soccer Club president, says the club is "obviously disappointed" that Morgan will miss the beginning of the season with Pride, but understand her wishes and look forward to her rejoining the team.
"This in no way affects our plans or commitment to growing Orlando Pride and we will continue providing the team the best available players, training resources and staff to become a championship contender in the NWSL and a leader in women’s professional soccer," he says in a statement