VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Pia Sundhage, the coach of the U.S. women's soccer team, wanted an honest answer.
How did Alex Morgan feel about her reduced role at forward during much of the Olympic qualifying tournament? Especially when Sundhage seemed to favor the young reserve Sydney Leroux?
"I don't think you want that answer," Morgan, 22, replied the other day.
It was exactly what Sundhage wanted to hear.
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"That tells me a little about how badly she wants to play," Sundhage said.
On Sunday, Morgan had a rare chance to start up front with Abby Wambach in a 4-4-2 formation and took advantage, scoring twice and delivering two assists as the Americans defeated Canada, 4-0, in the tournament final.
Both teams had already qualified for the 2012 London Games, so the result meant little other than for seeding purposes in the Olympic draw. But it might have meant a great deal as an audition by Morgan for a regular spot in the lineup.
The 4-2-3-1, with Lauren Cheney as playmaker, allows the U.S. to play a more efficient ball-possession game. The 4-4-2 allows Morgan and Wambach to use their speed and presence in the air to get behind opposing back lines.
Asked if Morgan had proved that she deserved to be a full-time starter, Sundhage was noncommittal.
"If we play tomorrow, I'll say yes," she said. But, looking ahead to a pre-Olympic tournament in Portugal, she added: "I don't know. That's the beauty of the team we have right now. We will still change the starting lineup quite a bit."
Morgan and Wambach played brilliantly together, scoring all four goals and combining on three.
Richland native Hope Solo, who had been dealing with a quadriceps injury, was again gymnastic and fearless, rushing off her line to smother whatever breakaway or dexterous run that Canada could muster. As her teammates won five games in 10 days and scored 38 goals, Solo did not surrender one.
In London, the United States will be a favorite to collect its third consecutive Olympic gold medal. And given the spry interplay between Morgan and Wambach, perhaps Sundhage will forgo the experimental 4-2-3-1 formation she has used in favor of the 4-4-2.
Sunday's game was only into its fourth minute when Morgan provided the decisive moment. Deftly, Wambach flicked a pass to her 30 yards from goal. Morgan dribbled past two defenders, kept her balance against a challenge and placed a left-footed shot inside the left post from 12 yards.
Before halftime, Morgan assisted on two Wambach goals. That gave Wambach 131 for her international career, putting her second on the women's global list to Mia Hamm's 158.
"I always want to be a starter," Morgan said. "That's the ultimate goal leading up to the Olympics."
Despite a part-time role, Morgan finished the tournament with four goals and six assists.
Her most splendidly evasive goal came in the 56th minute Sunday, when Morgan stabbed into the penalty area, eluded Canada's charging goalkeeper, spun to avoid a defender, and punched the ball into the open net from 12 yards.
When given her chances with the national team, Morgan has made the best of them, often in crucial circumstances. Her goal in added time gave the United States a victory in Italy in a playoff qualifier for the 2011 World Cup. Then she delivered a superb goal and an assist in the World Cup final.
Until Sunday, though, Sundhage preferred to bring Morgan off the bench, where she could focus on scoring rather than on the broader duties of reading the game. That seems sure to change now, at least on some occasions.