Retirement of Carli Lloyd
Carli Lloyd is a former professional soccer player for the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), and has bounced around from teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). However, Carli’s career initially began during her time playing for Delran High School from 1997-2000. Throughout her time playing for Delran, what stood her apart from the rest of the team was her composure on the ball, and her ability to transition it to other players from any point of the field. For instance, “As a high school athlete, she was known for her exceptional ball control and skill at distributing the ball from the midfield.”
Following high school, she went on to become a Scarlet Knight, where she played Division I soccer at Rutgers University. Continuing to play forward, from 2001-2004 she managed to receive awards that no women’s player at Rutgers ever has until her time there. More specifically, while working towards her degree in Exercise Science and Sports Studies, she was named Scarlet Knights’ all time leading scorer, two-time All-American, and the first athlete at Rutgers to be named First-Team All-Big East for four years straight.
Her many achievements along with how much she enjoyed playing soccer in college made her realize she wanted to continue playing at the next level after she graduated. However, as commendable as her four seasons were for the Scarlet Knights, the National Team coaches didn’t believe she had what it takes to play at the highest level. After being shot down numerous times, Lloyd’s confidence began to lessen and started to wonder if she should just stick to a normal nine to five job. Following these thoughts is when she stumbled upon an old acquaintance of hers, who was going to change her life forever.
James Galanis recognized the love and passion Carli had for the sport, and that she was willing to do whatever it took to play professionally, so he agreed to train her. Lloyd describes him as her “longtime trainer and mentor” and even goes on to say that she wouldn’t have made it to the USWNT if it weren’t for him. Although she continued to get shot down by the National Team, they trained for months together and never took a day off even in poor weather conditions or days she felt helpless. This finally led to her being offered a spot on the Under 21 (U21) United States National Team, where she played from 2002-2005.
James expressed to Carli that making the U21’s was an accomplishment, but it was only the beginning. He said that if she really wanted to make it, it was necessary that she eliminate all distractions and to continue training every free second she got. “Steer clear of anything that isn’t helping you get to where you want to go — that is another James Galanis lesson, one that has become my life mantra. If something isn’t helping you, it means it’s hurting you, and the bigger the goals you have, the less you can afford to have anything impede your progress” (Carli Lloyd : When Nobody Was Watching).
Following this, Lloyd was finally offered a spot on the Full USWNT, and played for them from 2005-2021. Although this turned out to be one of the biggest accomplishments of her life, the struggles that came with it caused her mental health to spiral downwards at an exceedingly fast rate. Therefore, she used this as fuel and continued to work towards her goals. Carli says, “Sometimes I was sobbing, feeling worthless, feeling like I was done. But I kept putting one foot in front of the other.”
Following the mental aspect of playing the beautiful game at the highest level, Lloyd goes on to talk about all she missed out on when working towards this goal. According to The Players Tribune, Carli states, “And that’s the thing. I truly don’t think people understand the sacrifices involved in pursuing greatness, especially in sports, especially in soccer. It’s a trade-off. And it’s not a very fair one. You trade literally everything in your life – your significant other, your friends, your family, your free time, anything else you ever loved to do – and in return you get the chance to maybe, if everything goes right, represent your country in a World Cup or an Olympics every four years.”
After years of working towards moments like this, Lloyd was a major asset in winning a gold medal at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. However, this was just the beginning and she did not hesitate to start working towards making a name for herself in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. “‘I don’t just want to be a participant in the World Cup,’ American soccer star Carli Lloyd recently said. ‘I want to have a legacy. I want to have people remember me, and let my play do the talking.’”
The 2015 World Cup Final initially shaped her career and made her name known. After scoring a hatrick (three goals) in the first 16 minutes of the game, it was clear that the USWNT would secure the World Cup Title. The most well known Carli Lloyd goal took place during this game, where she struck the ball from midfield and placed it in the back of the net, helping her team win 5-2 over Japan.
Following this Lloyd was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2008 and 2018, and is a two-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year. She received these awards for her outstanding performances and contributions to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and in the following games of the 2016 season. On December 16, 2015 she was awarded FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in Chicago, and on January 9, 2017, she was named the 2016 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year at a gala in Zurich, Switzerland.
During Carli Lloyd’s 17 years playing for the Full USWNT, she participated in 316 career games which is the second all-time internationally and played a total of 21,572 minutes, fourth all-time in USWNT history. Within these games she scored 134 career goals, placing her third all-time in USWNT history, assisted 61 career times, making her the sixth all-time in the history of the USWNT, and had 8 hat tricks, tied for most all-time in USWNT history. Another major accomplishment of hers is that she was a part of the first players to win the She Believes Cup three years in a row for the USWNT.
Despite all she has achieved, Lloyd always makes it a point to add that not everything is all “sunshine and rainbows.” There were times when she felt that quitting was the easier option and she didn’t want to play this sport anymore. For instance, “I am – and I know this may come as a shock to some people – a human being. I’ve felt every emotion you can feel in this game. I’ve felt the highest highs, but I’ve also been sad, anxious, depressed, devastated, defeated. I’ve felt not worthy. I’ve felt misunderstood. I’ve felt everything.” Additionally, “Eventually, this game will break you.”
However, she recognized that if she keeps pushing herself and working towards her goals, she will be able to overcome any obstacles that come her way. For instance, “The harder you work and the more prepared you are for something, you’re going to be able to persevere through anything.”
“It’s so hard to say goodbye.” Lloyd states. After 17 years of playing U.S. Soccer, her international career came to an end on the night of October 27, 2021. The friendly match against South Korea marked a very bitter sweet Tuesday night at Minnesota United’s Allianz Field for her team, friends, family, and fans. Prior to the match, the USWNT honored Lloyd with a pre-game ceremony where she stated “You will not see me on the field, but you best believe that I will be around helping this game grow.”
The 6-0 win over South Korea led to a cluster of emotions where she said, “My first love. My first passion. 34 years of playing with this. It has given me more than I could ever dream of. I could have never imagined the journey I’ve had. It has been incredibly hard, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”
Being the fact that Carli was shot down so many times by different coaches and teams, it’s very important to look back at her career and acknowledge all that she has accomplished strictly through hard work and dedication. She says, “What comes easy won’t last long, and what lasts long won’t come easy. An unforgettable journey it has been. It has never been easy, exactly how I would want it.”
“I put off starting a family. I put off having any semblance of a normal life. I gave every ounce of myself to this game for 17 straight years – never ever switching off. And you know what? I would do it all again. In an instant.” Lloyd finally states.