Carli Lloyd

USWNT star Lloyd ‘playing best soccer’ of career

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USWNT legend Carli Lloyd joined our very own Mike Tirico on NBC Sports’ Lunch Talk Live show and had some pretty interesting things to say about her former coach Jill Ellis and believes she is playing the best soccer of her entire career.

Carli Lloyd, 37, was a substitute for much of the 2019 World Cup in France last summer and the legendary midfielder has previously spoken about not being happy about it. Why would she be? After all, she’s Carli Lloyd.

The former FIFA World Player of the Year also previously said that without a coaching change she would have walked away from the USWNT but Vlatko Andonovski has since replaced Ellis who stepped down in July 2019.

“2019 was very difficult for me, the last few years have been very difficult but I didn’t stop being a teammate, I supported every one of my teammates and I was there for them but I was still competing and I still felt I deserved to be out there, starting and playing a lot more than I did. Those were things I couldn’t control. The only things I could control was being respectful and being a good teammate and supporting everybody around me,” Lloyd explained.

“To now have a coach who really values people, values the improvement of individuals as well as the team but also holds everybody accountable. It doesn’t matter how old you are, doesn’t matter how young you are, everybody is treated the same. As long as you’re performing, you’re going to play. For me that is all I wanted. I wanted a fair shot. It is up to me to perform and get the job done on the field but I’m feeling really good. Physically I feel amazing, the fittest I’ve ever felt. Tactically, I feel like I am playing the best soccer of my career. I just have to keep building and keep getting better.”

There’s a lot to unpack here. It was clear Ellis and Lloyd didn’t see eye to eye, even though the former USWNT head coach led the team to back-to-back World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019.

The style of play Ellis wanted from the USWNT was heavily criticized and was based on physical strength, being direct and generally pummelling opponents. That’s not the way Carli Lloyd plays and many believe the USWNT will now play a more attractive style under Vlatko Andonovski.

Tirico then asked Lloyd if the summer Olympics in Tokyo being delayed a year to 2021 impacted her at all and if she planned to be available for the USWNT next summer, as she aims to win a third Gold medal in her illustrious career.

“Not really. I am actually kind of excited because it gives me and my teammates another year to train and compete and to just push on and to continue to get better,” Lloyd said. “I know it is obviously different with other sports because of when you are peaking and all of that but for a soccer player there are details which go with the training but it is not heavily reliant on when you’re pushing and when you’re not. I am thankful that it is at least postponed for another year. I am looking forward to another year of giving it everything I have to help the team.”

Ever the competitor, Carli Lloyd was asked about her insatiable appetite to keep improved and she gave a typically gritty answer.

“It comes from within. The will for me to want to succeed. It is the work. It is the grind. I am obsessed with the work. Every single day, if I’m not doing something to make myself better I don’t feel good about myself,” Lloyd said. “I’ve spent my entire career doing the right things on and off the field, taking care of my body and being consistent with everything. That is the key. Training. Eating. Sleep. You can’t switch off. The minute you switch off, somebody is going to come in and take your spot. For me it has been this will to improve. I’ve gotten better with age but that comes down to the work I put in every single day. I won’t stop until I hang up the boots because I want to walk away from the sport knowing that I did very single thing possible to be the best I could be.”

USWNT star Carli Lloyd could retire after next summer’s Olympics

Carli Lloyd
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It’s strange to consider a United States women’s national team without Carli Lloyd, even if no one plays forever.

The 37-year-old playmaker has made nearly 300 appearances for the USWNT, scoring 123 times with 10 of those goals coming since the team won the 2019 World Cup in France.

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But Lloyd told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl that the postponement of this summer’s Olympics to 2021 may have just given her an exit strategy.

While there’s still plenty of gas in the tank now, perhaps another year and one last major tournament will be enough (especially if she puts little mileage on the tires during this extended coronavirus break).

From SI.com:

“I’ve had no date per se, in mind of officially retiring,” Lloyd continued. “I think in another year it probably will be the right time. Hopefully I continue to perform and make the Tokyo roster, and I would want nothing more than to win a gold medal with my teammates and fly off into the sunset.”

She also spoke candidly about the need for a culture change at U.S. Soccer, and her potential future as an NFL kicker. The entire podcast is here.

Lloyd has 20 first-place finishes with the USWNT including two World Cups and two Olympic golds, and she also won the FA Women’s Cup with Manchester City.

She’s the fourth-highest scorer in team history and only Christie Rampone and Christine Lilly have more caps.

Press wonder goal leads USWNT past England (video)

USWNT
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The United States women’s national team opened the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with a 2-0 defeat of reigning champs England in Orlando on Thursday.

Christen Press and Carli Lloyd scored goals in the win.

The Yanks finish the evening just behind Spain on the table after the latter beat Japan 3-1. Lucia Garcia scored twice for Spain after Japan leveled the score before halftime.

The tournament moves to New Jersey for Sunday’s second match day, where Japan will host England before the Yanks entertain Spain.

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The U.S. out-attempted England 23-8 to get a measure of tournament revenge from the 2-2 draw last season. The USWNT, of course, beat England in World Cup semifinal. Press scored in that 2-1 win, too.

Lloyd scored her goal off a nifty scoop pass from Lindsey Horan, and Julie Ertz had a goal ruled offside late in the match.

Press’ goal was dynamite stuff with spin rate like a top MLB pitcher, giving her six goals already since the calendar turned to 2020.

USWNT pushed in depositions: Could they beat the German men?

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Carli Lloyd was pushed over and over on differences between women and men.

[ MORE: USWNT seek over $66 million in damages from U.S. Soccer ]

“Do you think the women’s national team could beat the German men’s team?” U.S. Soccer Federation lawyer Noah Finkel asked during a Dec. 20 deposition.

“I’m not sure,” the two-time FIFA Player of the Year replied.

Finkel inquired about a 2015 email interview Lloyd conducted through her agent’s assistant with the website Sportskeeda.

“You wrote men are faster and stronger, right?” Finkel probed.

“Yeah, if you take those away, yeah, it would be a contest,” Lloyd said.

Again and again, members of the champion U.S. women’s team were pushed to detail distinctions between their sport, which they dominate, and the men’s game, where the Americans struggle.

Lawyers for the USSF are trying to show it’s OK to pay the women differently than the men because the competition is different. The sides made excerpts of depositions public in court filings Thursday night.

“The tone during depositions is reflective of the kind of condescension that many USSF officials employ when talking to the players about pay and workplace conditions,” said Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the players, “including the plainly disrespectful and sexist attitudes from USSF and their representatives during CBA negotiations when they refused to offer anything close to equal pay.”

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The women sued last year, alleging the USSF violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963 in reaching what they say is an inferior collective bargaining agreement with the women than the deal struck with the American men. They are seeking more than $66 million in damages.

The federation maintains the women have many benefits the men lack, including guaranteed salaries, health insurance, paid child-care assistance, pregnancy and parental leave, severance pay and access to a 401(k) retirement plan. Men get paid by the game and tournament, most earning the majority of their income from their club.

Reigning FIFA Player of the Year Megan Rapinoe was questioned about her response in an interview she gave to Pod Save America in which she said: “Our pay structure is different. We play different games. We’re different rankings in the world. Like, it’s just apples to oranges.”

The USSF said that from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2019, the women’s national team had gross revenue of $101.3 million for 238 games, an average of $425,446, and the men grossed $185.7 million for 191 matches, an average of $972,147. The women had a $27.6 million net loss over 11 years and the men lost $3.13 million.

“The international soccer environment in which the MNT players compete is far more competitive by many measures than that in which plaintiffs compete,” the USSF said in one of its papers filed with the court. “The MNT players have lower odds of succeeding in the face of such greater competition. In short, MNT players must achieve more and/or better results against tougher competition in order to qualify for, and succeed in, tournament competition.”

Barring a settlement, the trial is scheduled to start May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The women’s five-year labor deal runs through 2021 while the men play under the terms of a contract that expired Dec. 31.

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During her deposition on Jan. 15, former U.S. coach Jill Ellis testified she was told the men got chartered flights at times and the women didn’t. The USSF spent about $10.7 million on hotels for the men and approximately $7.3 milllion on the women during the fiscal years 2012-20. Air travel was about $6.3 million for the women during that period and $14.3 million for the men, many of whom play in Europe. The USSF increased first- and business-class travel for the women in 2017.

Speaking during her Dec. 20 deposition, Lloyd talked about personally training with the Medford Strikers’ under-18 boys team in New Jersey.

“It’s different in the sense that men are bigger, stronger, faster. That’s their makeup. There’s no — there’s no denying science in that regard,” she said. “But I am the most skillful player there. So if you take their speed and athleticism and their strength away, it’s the same game.”

Former USSF President Sunil Gulati, speaking during a Dec. 17 deposition, used a comparison with an NBA star to point out differences.

“LeBron James doesn’t get a bonus for getting 15 points and for the Lakers finishing out of the playoffs,” he said. “The expectations for him are different based on who they’re playing against, what – who he is, what the level is.”

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)
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Back-to-back World Cup winners don’t grow on trees, but how many of the 2015 and 2019 champs should comprise the USWNT’s Best XI of the 2010s?

Choosing a men’s Best XI was difficult enough. Claiming the women’s top team is darn near impossible.

That won’t stop us from trying, especially given there are more hours in the year than there are posts to write in earnest.

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The challenge in putting together an XI given this decade’s accolades is how many shiny attacking toys produced by this fine country.

Start rattling off the big names and you’ll see the struggle: Wambach, Morgan, Lloyd, Heath, Rapinoe, O’Reilly.

Shoot: Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press would be the best attackers of the decade if their nationality was any of about 125 other options (FIFA only ranks 141 women’s teams).

So we are going to cheat a little bit.

Our Best XI will play three at the back despite the fact that the Yanks rarely if ever operated that way. The reason is the Yanks have one no-doubter fullback who played left back in one World Cup win and right back in another.

[ MORE: Best USMNT, USWNT moments of the 2010s ]

Ali Krieger is a fit enough choice for right back, but can the newlywed star justify her place over one of the attacking heroes we’d like to swing into the fold? Meh.

Plus Julie Ertz at center mid gives us a bonus center back, and we’re willing to bet that either Becky Sauerbrunn or she would make for one heck of a full back in a pinch.

Lauren Holiday slides into the midfield alongside Ertz. The superstar retired near the peak of her powers to start a family with NBA husband Jrue Holiday, and we can hope that she wins the soccer or hoop debate if her children are sport-inclined.

That all brings us to the attackers.

Tobin Heath may be the flashiest and most fun attackers in the world, but she’s just missing out. It was either her or Abby Wambach, and the latter is the current (though not for long) leading scorer in the history of the game.

Solo

O’Hara — Rampone — Sauerbrunn

Ertz — Holiday

 Rapinoe — Lloyd — O’Reilly

Wambach — Morgan