Carli Lloyd has undoubtedly become one of the faces of women’s soccer, not just in the United States but globally.
The U.S. Women’s National Team star has done it all. From helping the U.S. hoist the FIFA Women’s World Cup title in 2015 to being named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, Lloyd has seen her stardom grow over the years, and that’s what brought the 35-year-old midfielder to Manchester City this past season.
Lloyd had proven herself on the international level with the USWNT and domestically in the NWSL and WPS (prior to that), but when an opportunity came knocking to complete a loan spell in England, it simply wasn’t something she could pass up.
“I’ve always wanted to go overseas to play, but it had to be the right fit,” Lloyd told reporters on Sunday prior to the New York Derby. “The door opened up to go and play for Manchester City and all the stars aligned.
“It’s been a great organization to fight for, to work for and kind of see the evolution of all their teams.”
Lloyd played an important role for the Lady Citizens during her spell with the club, scoring three goals in 10 matches across all competitions and helping guide Man City to an FA Women’s Cup title — where she scored in the final.
The Manchester City also fell just short of Champions League glory in 2017, losing 3-2 on aggregate in the semifinals to fellow American Alex Morgan and Lyon — who went on to win the competition.
Morgan also spent time in Europe this season on loan in France, but has since returned to her Orlando Pride club in NWSL.
When asked about her transition to life in England, Lloyd jokingly stated that she “didn’t drive for about the first few weeks.”
Additionally, the USWNT star spoke about how her experiences in England will follow her for the rest of her life, including getting to know Manchester City men’s manager Pep Guardiola.
“I can look back in 10, 15 years time and say that I lived in the same apartment complex as Pep Guardiola and exchanged texts with him,” Lloyd said.
“It was fantastic playing for the women. They really pride themselves on doing all they can to make it the best women’s club in the world and they’re on their way. I’m really excited to follow them and watch them grow.
Since her time with the Citizens ended in May, Lloyd has since returned to the U.S., where she plays for the Houston Dash of NWSL.
At this point, she says her biggest focus is to help the Dash reach the NSWL playoffs, which is something the club has failed to do in its first three seasons in the league.
The Dash are currently three points behind the Orlando Pride for the sixth and final spot in the postseason.
“I’m going to do all I can to help the club reach a playoff spot,” Lloyd said.
On the national team front, Lloyd remains one of the key figures in Jill Ellis’ side, despite this being an off year for the USWNT in the World Cup cycle.
The women’s squad has had their share of difficulties in 2017, losing matches to England, France and most recently Australia in the Tournament of Nations.
However, Lloyd recognizes that results during this calendar year don’t necessarily reflect how good the USWNT will be in the coming years and that finding players to help strengthen the squad will boost the nation’s chances of hoisting another World Cup title in 2019.
“I would assess it in a couple of different ways,” Lloyd said when asked about the current state of the USWNT. “One, it’s an off year. It’s a transition year. There are some experimentations going on at the moment. Do you remember in 2014/2015 when we lost to France? Everybody just remembers us winning the World Cup in 2015.
“Me as the player, you always want to be in peak form. You always want to be playing at your best, but in order to break these barriers you need to go backwards sometimes and put the pieces back together again in order to jump up a few more levels. I think that’s where we’re at right now and trying to look for more player depth within the squad.
“We’re all trying to do what we can and as we get closer to 2018 we’ll kind of hone in on everything. It’s obviously unfortunate not being able to win all the time, but that’s not the way women’s soccer is going anymore. It’s a lot harder. At the end of the day, 2019 is the real focus.”
For the New Jersey native, 2019 could very well be her last showing for both club and country, according to the former Rutgers Scarlet Knights standout.
Lloyd has represented the USWNT since 2005, making 242 appearances for the Stars and Stripes and scoring 97 goals in the process.
“The plan is this next cycle,” Lloyd said. “For me, age is just a number. It’s all about evolving. Every part of my career, every phase of my career has been something different. Now, I think it’s about being more sophisticated.
“Players are out to get the ball away from me. They’re out to kick me. I’m in the spotlight, so everybody thinks that I need to score a hat-trick every time I’m on the pitch. It doesn’t happen like that.Follow @MattReedFutbol