Lloyd, Solo on USWNT’s culture, equal pay, next generation

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Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo will always be USWNT legends and their insight on all things soccer, and life, is fascinating.

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Lloyd, 38, and Solo, 39, are among the most decorated women’s players in the history of the game and the former is still playing with the USWNT as she was called up to the camp in Florida this month.

Solo has retired from playing and is now a pundit and both of them lifted the lid on entering the USWNT setup at the same time, with Lloyd revealing what being on a five-a-side team with Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and others was like for a youngster, and there were plenty of serious topics discussed.

Speaking to The Players Podcast on the BBC, hosted by former New Zealand women’s national team captain Bex Smith, Lloyd and Solo opened up about a variety of topics concerning the USWNT, and it wasn’t always easy for the superstar players.

Here are a few of the tasty snippets from the episode, which is well worth a listen:


Carli Lloyd on the culture among the current USWNT squad

“I tell these young players, ‘you guys have it a bit easier.’ It is much more of a welcoming environment for them to come into now. Before, you were fighting and clawing your way up n your own islands. But that’s what made the team great for so many years. It is different now, but still great. It was not easy. The competitiveness is still there. It is a little bit different. I think it is a little bit of an easier transition now for some of the younger players. The older players make them feel a bit more welcome but once we step in-between those lines, it can get chippy. That never changes.”


Hope Solo on the early days in the USWNT with Lloyd

“When you look at old school initiation in college, that stuff is not allowed any more. When we grew up on the team it was cut-throat, people were not nice to us. People were not welcoming to us. They did not invite you to sit at the dinner table. You had to go through the physical tests as players, obviously, but all of the social tests as well. It was really, really difficult growing up on the national team, for me, in a social aspect as well as learning the game.

“It is a much more open, welcoming environment and that’s the way we’ve transitioned as society. You look back in college. You can’t haze anymore. You can’t treat Freshmen poorly anymore. I also don’t think that helps build character in a lot of these younger athletes. They do have the road paved for them a lot of the time. A lot of coaches don’t know how to coach the younger generation anymore. You cannot push them the same way you could push that really competitive athlete, someone like Carli, Mia Hamm, or someone like myself or Abby Wambach. You have to cater to them. It is a completely different environment and I don’t think it is always a good thing. I think it creates some softer athletes we see in this age.”

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Solo on how intense the culture was with the USWNT

“When you grow up on the national team, there was a mean girls club. It was a mean girls club. Most players have come from rich, white families. That is the culture of the United States women’s national team. It is a very privileged, white culture. I remember Carli [Lloyd] and I always talking about the culture: ‘We have to change this culture’. Carli and I were very welcoming, we weren’t bullies. We were very nice to the young kids coming in, but I think it’s because we were bullied.”


Lloyd on the culture of money, TV deals and how that impacted the team dynamic

“If you focus all of your time and energy on that, it is draining. It is a draining environment if you are constantly worried about this person or that person. For me, throughout my career, it was all about ‘okay, head down, how can I be the best possible player?’ I think I was a little misunderstood. That’s another reason why Hope and I were sort of the black sheep of the group. I didn’t come from money either. I was crawling my way to the top. I wasn’t pegged as the next big time college player coming out and going to make the national team. Head down, focus on the things I could control to be the best version of myself.

“I just tried to stay away from all of the drama and really didn’t want all of that to creep into my mind and drain me and not allow me to reach my full potential. Obviously now I have a different handle of things. Experience. But it’s hard. It is not easy. I was never, and I’m still not, a truly vocal leader. I don’t feel I have to bark orders at people. I just lead by example. I do it every day in training and games. It’s hard, man. Those first few years I was on the team, I was like, ‘this is what this is supposed to be like!? This isn’t fun.'”


Lloyd on her limited playing time in recent tournaments

“I believe that I didn’t have a shot at ever earning a starting spot from 2017 all the way to 2019. I publicly stated that I should have been out there. I should have been playing more. But I also still stuck by my teammates and respected the coach’s decision. As an athlete, I know I could have made a difference, I know I could have helped. You want people to have that mindset. I should hang up the boots if I’m OK with playing 10 minutes.”


Solo on the ongoing equal pay battle

“I don’t think we’re doing enough. I think the US women’s national team isn’t doing enough. We had the ability to get equal pay four years ago and the current players passed on that because they agreed to the new contracts. Sacrifices have to be made. I do believe eventually we are going to see it, but we’re not there yet. We have to stand up together and be strong together and make sacrifices – and that hasn’t been done yet.”

“I do believe work has to be put in, and when I say work I’m talking about legal documents, I’m talking about meeting with politicians, congress, and the United States senate. I’m tired of talking about it. Things have to change. Things have to turn that corner. When you look at history, people in power don’t want to give up power, [people] have to take it. Look at the black vote, look at women’s rights to vote, they had to fight for it. It was never just given. I think that’s where we stand today with equal pay. The people in power don’t want to just give women equal pay. We have to take it. We have to fight for it.”