Carli Lloyd is undoubtedly a US Women's National Team (USWNT) legend, but does the fourth all-time leading scorer in the team's history still have what it takes to start for the world's best squad at 37 years old?
Carli Lloyd certainly thinks so. And she backed that confidence up with a stunning pair of goals and an assist in the USWNT's 3-2 win over rival Sweden in newly-minted head coach Vlatko Andonovski's first game with the team.
She netted the first score just six minutes into Thursday night's grudge match. Fellow forward Christen Press made a stunning run up the flank and sent a one-touch pass across the box that Lloyd delivered to the corner of the goal in stride.
Lloyd returned the favor to Press just over 20 minutes later, assisting on the 30-year-old's 50th international goal.
And in the 31st minute, Lloyd lofted a beautiful chip over the Swedish keeper's head and into the back of the net to extend the United States' lead to three and extend her international goal count to a whopping 120.
The two-time World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and two-time FIFA Player of the Year has been outspoken about deserving more playing time than she received during the 2019 World Cup. On ESPN's 'Laughter Permitted' podcast, Lloyd told host Julie Foudy that the USWNT's historic run in France was absolutely the worst time of my life.
It was hard. I'm not going to lie and sugarcoat it, Lloyd said. It was absolutely the worst time in my life. It affected my relationship with my husband, with my friends. It really was the rock bottom of my entire career.
It sucked. It absolutely sucked, she added.
Lloyd went even further, arguing that she should have been among the starting XI for each of the team's seven World Cup matches. The Delran, New Jersey, native was remarkably candid regarding her dissatisfaction with her playing time, repeatedly sharing her grievances with the media throughout the USWNT's World Cup run. She told Foudy she was comfortable doing so because she had had loads of conversations with former head coach Jill Ellis.
Before US Soccer announced its decision to name Andonovski as the ninth head coach in the USWNT's history, Lloyd hinted that she may choose to quit altogether if her role heading into the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo isn't commensurate with her expectations.Carli Lloyd during the 2019 World Cup.Catherine Ivill - FIFA / Getty Images
I hope a coach comes in that values me, respects me, wants me part of the Olympic plans, Lloyd said. There's no question that my ability is there. I'm able to do it — physically, I'm able to do it.
But Thursday's performance certainly helps bolster Lloyd's chances of playing a major role in Japan next summer. With her two tallies, Lloyd extended her international goal count to 15 on the year — more than anyone else on the USWNT roster.
Additionally, superstar striker Alex Morgan's pregnancy could open up the spot Lloyd needs to break through as a starter. The 30-year-old announced that she was having a girl in April of 2020 via social media. Even though Morgan has publicly stated that she intends to get in shape and return to the team prior to kickoff at the summer Olympics, Lloyd will have the next six months to continue padding her resume — which is already arguably the most impressive in women's soccer — and make the case to Andonovski that she deserves the spot regardless of Morgan's return.