CARLI LLOYD FINISHING U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM CAREER KNOWING SHE 'GAVE IT ALL I HAD'
"I don't think that there's many that understand what it actually takes," Lloyd told FOX Sports on Monday during her final pregame news conference. "It’s very tiring to continue to prove people wrong."
That singular drive required sacrifices, lots of them. To Lloyd, anything that didn’t help her hurt her. She didn’t party or stay out late. She insisted that her husband, Brian, not travel to support her at major tournaments, lest he be a distraction.
Carli Lloyd: By the Numbers
10: Lloyd has worn the No. 10 jersey for both club and country, never wearing another number for any NWSL team.
111: A regular name on the team sheet, Lloyd has made 111 appearances across all NWSL competitions starting 109 of those games.
46 and 11: Ahead of Gotham FC’s remaining matches in the 2021 NWSL season, Lloyd currently has 46 goals and 11 assists to her name - however this tally could go up shortly!
May 17, 2014: First NWSL goal (Washington Spirit 3-2 Western NY Flash).
.400: Always a threat on the pitch, Lloyd is a vigorous attacker for any club. She currently holds the fourth-highest regular season goals-per-game ratio among active players at .400.
39: Lloyd is currently the oldest NWSL field player at 39 years old and the oldest player in the league to take and convert a penalty.
1: Back in 2013 Lloyd won the NWSL Shield with Western New York Flash and it remains her only NWSL title to date.
Carli Lloyd, forever fixated on greatness, ends her brilliant USWNT career
Opinion: Goal the only thing missing from Carli Lloyd's final game with USWNT
It was a worthy send-off for the player who scored the game-winner in the gold-medal matches at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and personally outscored Japan in the 2015 World Cup Final.
"This was," Lloyd said after the 6-0 victory over South Korea, "one of the most special nights I’ve ever had in my life."
All that was missing was a goal.
It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye
I could go on and on. As a matter of fact, I actually keep a list of these little digs in the Notes app on my phone. It’s a long one. In my 17 years playing this beautiful game at the professional level, I’ve heard so many ugly things. A lot of athletes will tell you that they ignore the comments. That the words don’t sting. That it’s all just white noise. Well, I’m telling you now, as I prepare to say goodbye, that some of those words hurt me deeply.
I am — and I know this might 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.
‘I’m at peace’: Carli Lloyd seeks a special ending to a career-long chase for greatness
“I was happy before, you know,” she says. “But I think what people don’t understand is to reach the heights that I have, I almost had to be emotionless. I mean, maybe I didn’t have to, but it was sort of fight or flight mode. I didn’t want anything to derail me. I almost didn’t have feelings, even amongst my rift with my family. I was just kind of numb to a lot of things.”
She says the 2019 World Cup cycle changed her. After so many big performances in major tournaments, Lloyd started only one match in France and played just 199 total minutes. She not only started to feel some of her emotions, but shared them, as well. Two years later, on the other side of a long injury layoff, after splitting ties with long-time coach James Galanis and mending her relationship with her family, she’s earned happiness. There’s nothing left for her to prove in soccer except, she notes with a smile, an NWSL Championship, which might not be entirely out of reach this season with Gotham making a postseason run.
‘She’s a South Jersey hard ass’: Friends and teammates share stories of the Carli Lloyd they know
It wasn’t the first time Delran had feted Lloyd; in 2008, when she returned to the United States as an Olympic hero, a third of the town’s population of 17,000 (give or take) turned out to cheer for her on a parade route. In 2021, Catrambone guesstimated as many as 4,000 people were in attendance at the party’s peak. At the end of the night, Lloyd took the stage with her family present to thank everyone for coming, her voice wavering with emotion as she gave her speech.
The final capper: Delran Community Park, the site of the party, will be renamed Carli Lloyd Field. From one field in Delran to another, Lloyd had come full circle.
The Athletic spoke to the people who knew Lloyd throughout her soccer career, from her early years picking up teammates in her minivan through the turbulence with her family, the ups and downs with the national team and more. One might be tempted to say the image of two Lloyds emerged: the public and the private. But really, it was the image of a person who, like so many of us, grew more complex over time, and presented the face she thought was best to the world through her own imperfect, human understanding of her place in it.