Carli Lloyd

USWNT Best XI of the decade (2010s)
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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

Best USMNT and USWNT moments of the 2010s

Top USMNT USWNT moments of decade
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The United States men’s national team had some dynamite moments in a dreary decade.

The USWNT had just a few dreary ones in a dynamite one.

But what were the best moments of the 2010s for the top teams of U.S. Soccer? And what’s a bigger challenge: deciding what moment is No. 3 or choosing between Nos. 1 an 2.

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Isn’t it wonderful that the USWNT  makes it so we have to choose which World Cup title is most delightful and impactful?

5. USWNT, Canada in seven-goal Olympic festival of soccer and officiating ridiculousness

Maybe it’s myopic and biased to call this the peak of the USWNT-Canada rivalry, but holy cow was this one a beauty. A guaranteed medal and a spot in the 2012 Olympic final was on the line when the U.S. fell behind not once, not twice, but three times at Old Trafford.

Christine Sinclair, arguably the greatest scorer in women’s history, had a giant-killing, nation-lifting day in attack, scoring in the 22nd, 67th, and 73rd minutes. The Yanks only equalized the third time because of a controversial handball penalty which was given after an indirect free kick was awarded for time-wasting.

An indirect free kick awarded for time-wasting. Abby Wambach was possibly given a second gold medal for intimidating the referee.

4. “And Donovan has scored. Oh can you believe this? Go, go, USA!”

The 1990s and 2000s each had their gateway moment for new fans of the U.S. men’s national team, the 90s being a whole tournament in the United States. Eight years later, it was beating rivals Mexico in the group stage.

The 2010s? Look no further than the current manager of San Diego Loyal FC.

3. Tim Howard goes Spiderman in memorable loss to Belgium

The Yanks have a decent history of putting up fine shows in World Cup knockout round exits, Ghana excluded. There was 1-0 to Brazil on home soil. Then, the 1-0 handball-aided loss to Germany in Korea.

But this was something else. The American goalkeeping position had always been a strength, but Tim Howard took it to the next level with a performance which inspired comparisons to Marvel Superheroes and Neo from the Matrix.

The U.S. lineup was good, but Belgium’s XI went like this: Courtois, Kompany, Van Buyten, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Hazard, Mertens, and Origi. The guys who came into the game? Lukaku, Mirallas, Chadli. Mousa Dembele couldn’t get on the pitch.

It was a performance big enough to earn this from Kompany after the game:

And Howard followed it up with an incredibly emotional post-match press conference. A U.S. Soccer icon.


[ MORE: USMNT Best XI of the 2010s ]


2. Megan Rapinoe caps World Cup title defense in iconic fashion

Megan Rapinoe was everywhere as the USWNT allowed just three goals in seven matches, ruffling plenty of feathers by scoring a ton of goals and celebrating them with vigor.

No recency bias here: A World Cup crown is a World Cup crown, but you’re nuts if you think this finale was as fun as our No. 1. The parade, however, looked on the level.

1. Carli Lloyd goes off in 2015 World Cup Final

Believe it or not, there was a three-tournament run where the Yanks missed two World Cup finals and lost a third.

So the relief of watching Jill Ellis lead the Yanks to a 5-2 rout against Japan was delicious

Carli Lloyd cashed in a midfield goal to cap a hat trick in the 16th minute, and… well… yeah. She had a rarefied day and year.

Captain Lloyd leads USWNT to win in Andonovski’s debut

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Vlatko Andonovski’s first match at USWNT boss started with glory and ended with tension, the World Cup champs riding a three-goal lead to a 3-2 win over Sweden on Thursday at Columbus Crew Stadium.

Carli Lloyd captained the side, scoring twice and adding an assist before missing a penalty that could’ve made the score 4-2 late.

[ RECAPS: Man Utd 3-0 Partizan | Wolves 1-0 Slovan Bratislava ]

Christen Press also scored for Yanks, who allowed two goals to Anna Anvegard in five second half minutes. The Yanks out shot Sweden 16-7 and had a shade under 50 percent possession.

Andonovski was named coach on Oct. 28, taking the reins from two-time World Cup winner Jill Ellis. He comes from the NWSL’s Seattle Reign.

Lloyd’s second goal was a peach.

Lloyd: Coming off bench at World Cup “rock bottom of my entire career”

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The upper echelon of the USWNT player pool, especially the veteran generation, just swims in a different competitive gene pool.

Comments from a recent podcast featuring Carli Lloyd are the latest evidence of this, as the USWNT legend calls not starting regularly at this summer’s World Cup “the worst time of my life.”

[ MORE: How should USMNT line up? ]

She says she was happy to be a part of it and happy for her teammates but doesn’t back down from the “worst” diagnosis. Yeah, you read that right.

“I’m not going to lie and sugarcoat it,” Lloyd said on Julie Foudy’s Laughter Permitted podcast. “It was absolutely the worst time of my life. It affected my relationship with my husband, with friends. It really was rock bottom of my entire career. But somehow, you see light at the end of the tunnel, and I can honestly say I’m having more fun now playing than I ever have in my career. I think I just learned a lot throughout it.”

To be fair, Lloyd hasn’t backed up anyone in almost a decade and has since won a Ballon d’Or. Not many elite athletes get used to being second (or fourth) fiddle, especially on a major stage like that.

The personalities on this team are as big as any produced by Ronaldo’s Brazil or Zidane’s France. Some may laugh at this, but it shows what a tremendous job Jill Ellis did in marshaling the team to two-straight World Cups, the first with Abby Wambach in a sub’s role and the second with Lloyd.

It also shows the marvelous competitive nature of Lloyd and the resilience of players who know they’d start for any number of teams in the world. Lloyd says in the podcast that she believed she was playing at near her best level despite being moved from midfielder to forward.

Obviously no player prefers a sub’s role to starting, but — wow — if it isn’t bewildering to hear Lloyd talk about her supporting role at age 37 being the worst time of her life. Different types.

U.S. plays to 1-1 draw in final game for retiring coach Ellis

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CHICAGO — Despite a goal by captain Carli Lloyd, the U.S. women’s national team was held to a 1-1 draw with South Korea on Sunday in the final game for retiring coach Jill Ellis.

Lloyd’s goal tied the game in the 37th minute, matching the score by South Korea’s Ji So-yun three minutes earlier. The draw, which gave the U.S. an 18-1-3 record under Ellis this year, came in front of 33,027 fans at Soldier Field, the third-largest crowd on the American team’s post-World Cup victory tour.

Lloyd appeared to score the go-ahead goal in the 93rd minute but was ruled offside on her shot from eight yards out. In the final minute of stoppage, Mallory Pugh had a point-blank chance but backup goalkeeper Kim Minjung got enough of her shot to deflect it off the crossbar.

Jessica McDonald’s header off the right post in the 83rd minute was the best chance to break the tie. Pugh failed to volley a 7-yard shot past Minjung in the 90th minute. The U.S. outshot South Korea 15-5.

Ellis, 53, was honored before the game with a jersey signed by the team and 132 written on the back, signifying the number of games she coached in a career that began with two stints as interim coach in 2012 and 2014. Her two world coach of the year honors came in 2015 and this year following the American victories in the Women’s World Cup.

While retiring as coach, Ellis will start her role as an ambassador for U.S. Soccer on Monday.

Ji opened the scoring in the 34th minute with an 18-yard shot that sailed just inside the left post, inches from the outstretched hands of American goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. That culminated a South Korean ball-control effort that dominated the match for the first 35 minutes. It was Ji’s team-leading 55th career goal.

The U.S. tied the match three minutes later, with Lloyd heading Megan Rapinoe’s long pass over the head of goalkeeper Kang Ga-ae. The set-piece score, coming a minute after a yellow card to South Korea’s Lee Young-ju for an ankle-twisting tackle on Rose Lavelle, was Lloyd’s 13th of the year.

Midfielder Julie Ertz had the best American chance before Lloyd’s goal, left-footing a shot off the right post in the 26th minute after a Korean giveaway. Crystal Dunn’s deep-angle follow-up shot missed the target.

The American team returns to action against Sweden on Nov. 7 in Columbus, Ohio. The coach for that match has not been announced.