Lloyd scores twice in USWNT’s rout of Belgium

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The World Cup must be getting close, because Carli Lloyd is looking dangerous.

The 2015 World Cup star scored her first two goals of the year in the opening 19 minutes of the U.S. women’s national team’s 6-0 thrashing of Belgium in an exhibition on Sunday night.

Lindsey Horan and Samantha Mewis added first-half goals on headers after Lloyd scored twice in the air. Alex Morgan also got a goal early in the second half as the Americans showcased their offensive potency in their first-ever meeting with Belgium, a well-regarded opponent that barely missed World Cup qualification.

Jessica McDonald added the Americans’ fifth headed goal in the final seconds of play.

“Obviously it all jelled really well tonight,” Morgan said. “We had some players on the field that hadn’t seen it as much, and I think a lot of players really stepped up. (The World Cup) is such a long tournament, and there are so many variables. We had to make sure every player is ready to contribute.”

Morgan scored on a beautiful pass from the 36-year-old Lloyd, who showed she might be more than a super sub in France this summer.

In Lloyd’s first start of the year, the goal-scoring hero of the Americans’ World Cup triumph in Canada came through with her 106th and 107th career goals, tying Michelle Akers for fourth place on the U.S.’ career goals list.

“I’d be foolish to not take this opportunity and try to seize it,” Lloyd said. “I want to win. I’m a winner. People can say what they want, but I know at the end of the day I can help this team lift that trophy in France, and I’m not going to stop until I can do that.”

The team’s leading active goal-scorer had played only 34 minutes as a substitute in five games this year, and she has been expected to play a reserve role this summer after coach Jill Ellis largely relegated her to the bench late last year. But Lloyd capitalized on her start with another dynamic display of the offensive talent that made her FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.

“I’ve said she’s a game-changer, whether she’s on the pitch or coming onto the pitch,” Ellis said of Lloyd. “That’s her role for us. I thought tonight, she was sharp. Fantastic. Played her role perfectly, getting on the end of things and getting results.”

Veteran defender Ali Krieger also made her first appearance for the U.S. in exactly two years, getting back into Ellis’ lineup for her 99th career appearance after going 18 months without a call-up before this two-game set of exhibition victories over Australia and Belgium.

Ellis is expected to set her World Cup roster for France within the next month.

“I have some big decisions to make in the next couple of weeks, so I think part of looking at (Krieger) was to see that,” Ellis said. “We want to get as many looks as we can.”

The Americans scored 11 goals against Australia and Belgium while Ellis examined her depth. And after giving up three goals to the Australians in Colorado, they kept a clean sheet in Los Angeles.

The U.S. team’s first game at 1-year-old Banc of California Stadium just south of downtown LA drew a near-sellout crowd of 20,941 to a friendly match that felt like a celebration of the sport.

The team debuted its World Cup white uniforms in front of a crowd including Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba and Eva Longoria. The actors all took the field before the game wearing jerseys of players from the 1999 World Cup-winning U.S. team, which was honored on the field at halftime for its landmark championship-winning victory a few miles away at the Rose Bowl.

Belgium was on a 10-match unbeaten streak despite narrowly failing to qualify for the World Cup. Its roster is stacked with talent playing professionally across Europe, but the Americans were superior on both ends.

Lloyd scored an exceptional goal in the 14th minute, finding a crease between two defenders and perfectly directing a long, difficult header off a free kick from Tierna Davidson. Lloyd’s second goal in the 19th minute was a close-range header off an exceptional cross from Crystal Dunn.

Horan then scored in the 26th minute off a corner, showcasing the Americans’ superiority in the air. Mewis also scored on a header seven minutes later off a free kick from Christen Press, who finished with three assists.

After coming on as a halftime substitution, Morgan got the Americans’ fifth goal in the 52nd minute. The native of the far-flung LA suburbs punched home her 101st career goal from a difficult angle after a pretty give-and-go with Lloyd.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

LISTEN: Carli Lloyd talks to “On Her Turf” podcast

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USWNT legend Carli Lloyd sat down with NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen in the latest “On Her Turf” podcast.

Lloyd, a two-time World Player of the Year, 2015 FIFA World Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist, discussed the past year, how sports has impacted her life and why she wrote her memoir, When Nobody was Watching.

All of the “On her Turf” pods can be listened to by clicking on the link below, where you can also subscribe:

Subscribe the podcast on Apple Podcasts for automatic downloads ]

Carli Lloyd hat-trick leads USWNT over Panama

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The U.S. women’s national team obliterated Panama 5-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Carli Lloyd.

Lloyd scored early and often, but it was Sam Mewis who got things started just five minutes in as she headed in a corner from Christen Press. Mewis snuck between three defenders and found space directly in the center of the net.

In the 23rd minute, a set-piece again added to the USWNT’s total. From the same corner, Press sent in a more high, looping delivery and found Lloyd at the far post and rose high above Maria Murillo to get her head to the ball.

Her second and the U.S. third came just six minutes later as Lloyd received a feed with her back to goal at the top-left corner of the box. She deked Hilary Jaen with a stepover and turned to face the goal, sped past Aldrith Quintero, and touched right to wrong-foot Yomira Pinzon before curling an effort into the top-right corner. Lloyd was so free that Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey gave up immediately as Lloyd shot the ball.

Christen Press bagged the third for the U.S. three minutes later just past the half-hour mark on a breakaway as the U.S. midfield picks the pocket of Quintero, and Julie Ertz immediately sends Press through. With both central defenders trailing in her wake, Press touched right enough to send Bailey to her belly and finished into the roof from a tight angle.

Finally, just after halftime, the U.S. picked up its fifth and final goal in the 48th minute on yet another set-piece as second-half substitute Rose Lavelle delivered a free-kick and found Lloyd at the far post for another close-range header, the easiest one she’ll ever have. Lloyd easily snuck behind her defender and was completely free at the far post, heading into the ground and in the net.

The win gives the U.S. two wins in two in the final group stage, with a match against Trinidad & Tobago still to come.

Twitter reacts as Man City wins Premier League

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Manchester City are Premier League champions again thanks to a Manchester United loss — at Old Trafford — to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

[ MORE: Man Utd 0-1 WBA | NUFC 2-1 Arsenal ]

The City title was inevitable, but amongst the celebratory Tweets are a lot of “Wow” moments for United’s loss and City’s amazing run.

Here are some of our favorites:

Carli Lloyd’s 100th goal leads USWNT past Mexico, 6-2 (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) Carli Lloyd became the sixth American to score 100 international goals, putting the United States ahead as it rallied for a 6-2 win over Mexico in an exhibition Sunday.

Alex Morgan scored twice for the second straight game as the Americans played another prep match ahead of World Cup qualifying in October. Megan Rapinoe chipped the goalkeeper to score from 35 yards and had four assists, one short of the U.S. record.

Lloyd, a two-time FIFA Player of the Year, scored in the 34th minute. Rapinoe’s cross went all the way across the field, and Lindsey Horan kicked the ball back into the penalty area, where it was deflected by goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago. Mallory Pugh’s volley ricocheted off the crossbar and Lloyd headed the ball into the open net from at the goal line.

The 35-year-old midfielder became the 16th woman to reach the century mark, joining fellow Americans Abby Wambach (184), Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100). Wambach holds the women’s world record.

CONCACAF announced Sunday that World Cup qualifying will take place in October, with group stage matches in Cary, North Carolina, and Edinberg, Texas. The semifinals and final will be in Frisco, Texas from Oct. 14-17.

Wearing the captain’s armband, Lloyd made her 252nd appearance with the national team. She scored three goals in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

“It’s obviously a great milestone, but I’ve got a lot of things I still want to accomplish left in my career,” Lloyd said. “To look back on where I started in 2005 to the player I’ve become, you don’t very often get to sit back and reflect because you’re always waiting for that next big thing.”

Lloyd also scored in the first match of the exhibition series against Mexico, a 4-1 victory Thursday in Jacksonville, Florida. Lloyd’s goal was the third in four minutes at the start of the second half. Morgan scored twice in the span, including a successful penalty kick.

Playing in her home stadium, goalkeeper Jane Campbell made her first international start.

Pugh beat goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago to put the U.S. ahead in the third minute, her fifth international goal this year and 11th overall for the 19-year-old. She also scored in the opening match against Mexico.

Mexico went ahead when Monica Ocampo scored in the 16th minute and Kiana Palacios in the 24th, her first international goal. Horan tied the score for the US in the 25th.

Morgan scored in the 43rd and 68th minutes. Rapinoe got her goal in the 64th when she chipped Santiago after running onto a sliding clearance by the goalkeeper.