Carli Lloyd discusses time at Man City, state of USWNT and more

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Carli Lloyd has undoubtedly become one of the faces of women’s soccer, not just in the United States but globally.

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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.

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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.

AP Photo/Eugenio Savio

“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.

[ MORE: Villa, NYCFC show courage with comeback win against Red Bulls ]

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.

UEL Recap: Wolves earn huge road victory, and more

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Wolverhampton Wanderers has one proverbial foot back in a European competition, potentially breaking a 40-year drought for the club.

Wolves defeated Torino on the road, 3-2, in the first leg match between the two sides on Thursday at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino. Mexican international Raul Jimenez continued his red-hot form with another goal, while Diogo Jota scored as well for Wolves.

The Premier League side took the lead late in the first half thanks to an own goal, as Gleison Bremer headed in a Wolves free kick expertly into the side netting. Jota then added the second for Wolves in the 59th minute after an individual moment of brilliance from Adama Traore down the right side of the box, completely bamboozling his defender.

Torino’s Lorenzo di Silvestre answered just two minutes later off a late run into the box and a powerful header, but Jimenez then gave Wolves another two-goal advantage, as well as another crucial away goal. Jimenez ran with the ball from midfield and with Nicolas N’Koulou retreating, Jimenez took the space and scored.

Torino striker Andrea Belotti gave the Italians some late hope with a penalty kick goal in the 89th minute, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback. Anything but a defeat by more than two goals for Wolves will be enough for the club to make it to the Europa League group stage.

Here’s more results from around the Europa League on Thursday afternoon:


Celtic top AIK at home

The Scottish champions appear to have brushed off the disappointment of exiting the UEFA Champions League with a solid 2-0 win at Celtic Park against AIK Solna on Thursday evening.

James Forrest scored the opener for Celtic, taking advantage of a ricochet on the edge of the box to unleash a strike that AIK goalkeeper Oscar Linner couldn’t parry away. Odsonne Edouard then put the icing on the cake with a tremendous free kick from 30-yards out to give Celtic it’s 2-0 lead.

Neil Lennon’s side then held off AIK late to secure the shutout.

Thursday’s Europa League Playoff Round first leg qualifying matches:


Astana 3-0 BATE
Ararat Armenia 2-1 F91 Dudelange
Malmo FF 3-0 Bnei Yehudah Tel Aviv
Suduva 0-0 Ferencvaros
Feyenoord 3-0 Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Ludogorets 0-0 Maribor
FC Copenhagen 2-1 Riga
AEK Athens 1-3 Trabzonspor
Legia Warsaw 0-0 Rangers

Crossroads: What if Arsenal hadn’t gone unbeaten?

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The 2003-2004 Premier League season will forever be remembered for Arsenal’s Invincibles, the first team in history to go an entire 38-game season undefeated.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

But what if they hadn’t?

On the latest episode of NBC Sports’ new series Crossroads, host Aaron West dives into the Invincible season for Arsenal, and what would have happened if Arsenal lost along the way. Of course, we know that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t until the next season against Manchester United that Arsenal’s unbeaten run of 49 games was ended.

Watch the latest episode of Crossroads above, and check out previous episodes on Manchester City and Liverpool on NBC Sports‘ Youtube Page.

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain signs contract extension at Liverpool

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While Liverpool hasn’t been busy in the transfer market, it continues to be busy upgrading its first team contracts.

The club announced on Thursday that it had signed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to a new, undisclosed long-term contract. The BBC reported that the new contract tied Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool through 2023, after his last deal was set to expire in 2022.

[READ: JPW’s Premier League Picks]

“I’m really, really excited – it’s been in the pipeline for a little while, so it’s nice to finally get it done and just extend my time here, which I am really looking forward to,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told Liverpool’s website in a statement. “I feel like I missed out on a year, which I obviously did, so it’s really exciting for me to be able to sign. It’s something that I feel is an opportunity to give that year back and make up for lost time – and hopefully put in some good performances to make amends for not being around last year.

“You’ve got to count your blessings every time you get an opportunity like this, you don’t get the chance to play for Liverpool Football Club every day. I am really excited to be able to extend my time here.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain is finally healthy after a long, long recovery from a horrific knee injury suffered in April 2018. The England international missed out on the World Cup as well as the Champions League final, though he was able to make the field off the bench towards the end of last season, eventually making the bench for Liverpool’s Champions League victory in June.

With some injuries and fatigue to other players, Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first Premier League start in more than a year last Saturday against his former club Southampton, playing 89 minutes in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory. He also started and played the first half in Liverpool’s UEFA Super Cup win over Chelsea on penalty kicks.

This deal is ultimately a good-will gesture from both sides, making up for the year lost that Oxlade-Chamberlain endured after the knee injury in the Champions League semifinal. It could take him more time, but Liverpool is certainly hoping that he can make a full recovery and come good for the Reds as it looks to win its first Premier League title, and first top league title in England since 1990.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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There are only two teams with perfect records through the opening two weeks of the new Premier League season, as there continues to be plenty of surprises.

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If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

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With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Bournemouth 1-3 Man City – (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Man United 3-1 Crystal Palace – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Tottenham 3-0 Newcastle – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Liverpool 1-1 Arsenal – (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) – [STREAM] 

Brighton 1-1 Southampton – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM]

Watford 1-2 West Ham – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM

Sheffield United 1-2 Leicester City – (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

 

Norwich City 2-2 Chelsea – (Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 2-1 Everton – (Friday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Wolves 1-2 Burnley – (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Gold) – [STREAM