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Sports

McGinley: Top-5 moments of Carli Lloyd’s legendary career

| Friday, August 20, 2021

At the close of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) bronze medal Olympic performance, Carli Lloyd announced she would be retiring at the end of this season with the USWNT. I have been watching Lloyd play since she joined the team in 2005, the same year I learned what soccer was, and it is going to be sad to watch the team without her.

From my extensive Lloyd memories — and a quick refresher of Youtube clips — I was able to put together what I believe to be an inclusive Top-5 Moments from Lloyd’s career. As a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, two-time World Cup Champion and two time Olympic Gold Medalist, there’s nothing she can’t do on the field and these moments highlight that. So, without further ado and in celebration of Carli Lloyd, let’s get to it.

No. 5: 312 caps and counting for the USWNT

Imagine playing three hundred games for the same team and bringing your all every day. It’s clearly not an easy feat as only three athletes have done it for the USWNT. Lloyd became one of them in a friendly against Sweden on April 10 of this year, joining Kristine Lilly and Christie Pearce. Since then, she has reached 312 caps making her second in the US and in the world only to Kristine Lilly.

With those 312 caps have come 128 goals and 100 different teammates. Through all of that, Lloyd has been consistent and present on the field. There’s a reason only three people have made it that far, Lloyd’s strength and ability made her one of them.

No. 4: Key group stage and final goals in the 2008 Olympics

Lloyd scored a game-winner to push the U.S. out of the group stage at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and into the final rounds of the tournament. The U.S. beat Japan 1-0 thanks to Lloyd. Without that goal, they would have been stuck in the group stage.

That goal proved not only to be vital to making it to those final rounds but also a practice run for the final against Brazil. The USWNT relied on a goal from Lloyd in extra time to secure the finals win in Beijing.

No. 3: Gold in the 2012 London Olympics

Every one of Lloyd’s appearances in the Olympics has been stellar. This year in Tokyo, she scored her final two goals on the Olympic stage at the very end of the bronze medal game. Once again, she came in clutch. But she had scored a brace in front of this kind of crowd before, this was nothing new from her.

One year after losing the World Cup in a devastating shoot-out, the USWNT was back on the world stage competing against Japan for the London Olympic gold medal. Lloyd scored two goals back to back, achieving the first brace ever in an Olympic final, by a man or woman. She helped to secure the win over Japan and get revenge for the loss the year before.

No. 2: Doing all of this while leading an equal pay fight

Being one of the world’s best and most well-known soccer players is hard enough. All of these accomplishments take time and work, that is something Lloyd is staunchly transparent about. That is why taking on her bosses in the middle of playing fantastic soccer for them is even more impressive.

Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo and Tobin Heath have taken the brunt of the media weight and the backlash in their fight for equal pay. They make their case every time they step on the field, and make it again into a microphone when they step off the field. Lloyd has taken on this responsibility with the utmost grace and capability, all while playing stellar soccer.

No. 1: the hat trick to end all hat tricks

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but anyone who watches women’s soccer knows what I’m talking about.

During the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Carli Lloyd opened the match with more fire under her than I had ever seen before. I was sitting around the television with my entire extended family, most of them watching a full women’s soccer match for the first time. The final was against Japan, a complete rematch of the 2011 setup.

Lloyd scored immediately, within the first minute.

And then again in the third.

We were in an uproar. We couldn’t hold it together. I was squatting on my chair, ready to jump out at a moment’s notice.

Then, we watched Lloyd rip one from the half-field line. She chipped it straight over the Japanese goalie to secure the hat trick, and one of the most insane goals in World Cup finals history. It was also the first hat trick ever achieved in a World Cup final. It went on to earn her the Golden Ball (tournament MVP) and the FIFA’s Player of the Year.

I will never forget that moment, and I can’t imagine Lloyd ever will either.

Though these are her top-5 moments thus far, Lloyd has two more months of USWNT play ahead of her for more records and goals. She said on Twitter that in those two months she would “grind and cherish playing.” She promised fans, “You best believe I’ll give it all I have ’til the end!”

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