At 39, Carli Lloyd Will Be The Oldest U.S. Women's Team Player To Go To The Olympics
Lloyd and her teammates who were just selected for the Summer Olympics hope to join that elite club, following their 2019 World Cup title with an Olympic gold. Experience is on their side — nearly the entire Olympic roster played in the Cup — but the other side of that edge is age.
"Obviously, we have a lot of experience on this roster, but we're going to need all 18 players to play a huge role in this," Lloyd says.
A third Olympic gold would put another exclamation point on Lloyd's career. FIFA has twice honored her as the best women's player in the world, and she has won two World Cup championships. Lloyd is also one of only three players, male or female, to appear in 300 or more international matches.
Lloyd says she's never been in better shape, despite speculation that she might retire after Tokyo. In an interview with NPR, Lloyd also discusses how the team has changed over the years — and what hasn't.
Carli Lloyd makes history as USWNT soccer roster for Tokyo Olympics is announced
No one fits that description better than Lloyd.
Relegated to the bench at the 2019 World Cup, the two-time FIFA Player of the Year had said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue to Tokyo. But a coaching switch – Andonovski replaced Jill Ellis in October of that year – and the year postponement of the Olympics because of COVID-19 has rejuvenated Lloyd, who said earlier this month that her game is now at a “whole other level.”
There’s Nothing Carli Lloyd Would Want More Than To Make USWNT Olympic Roster
“It would be amazing. There’s something really special about the Olympics and playing for this team,” said Lloyd, hoping to play in her fourth Olympics. “Nothing is guaranteed. Hard work gets you to the top, extreme hard work keeps you at the top. I’m just grateful to be able to continue to still play and live out my dream.
“There’s nothing I would want more than to make the team and help the team win a gold medal.”
USWNT legend Carli Lloyd defying Father Time in quest for soccer Olympics gold at age 39
If it seems unlikely there could be another level beyond excellence for an athlete encountering middle age, you have not been paying attention to the sporting world in 2021. Tom Brady, already the owner of six Super Bowl rings, won his seventh as a 43-year-old quarterback. Golfer Phil Mickelson earned a sixth major title with a PGA Championship triumph at age 50. Helio Castroneves, essentially discarded by his race team as he entered his mid-40s, won a fourth Indianapolis 500 at age 46.
Lloyd may not appear to belong in this age group at first glance, but understand the nature of the sport and the constant, year-round grind tends to age soccer players more rapidly. Mia Hamm played her last game for the USWNT at 32. Abby Wambach was done at 35. Landon Donovan, the greatest USMNT player, was cut from the 2014 World Cup team at age 32. Zinedine Zidane ended his career with a World Cup triumph shortly after turning 34.
Lloyd will reach her 39th birthday July 16, and it’ll be a full celebration if that occurs in Japan while preparing to open the Games five days later against nemesis Sweden. She has won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals. She has earned 303 caps, third in world soccer history, and scored 125 international goals, which ranks sixth. Against Jamaica, she became the oldest player ever to score for the USWNT, and she bagged that goal 23 seconds into the match, as though it were essential to get it done before time caught up with her
A statement goal from Carli Lloyd likely punched her ticket to the Olympics
Some things about Lloyd haven’t changed, including an internal fire fueled by critical fans and media. It burned as brightly as ever Sunday night.
“I literally haven’t switched off for 17, 18 years — it’s been hard-core craziness,” she said. “I’m sure my husband and friends and family are going to be excited when I’m done playing, because I’ll actually get to do things, but it’s been all worth it to me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I don’t have any regrets.”
It’s an essential part of her nature that she has, as she put it, “done everything possible to continue to play to this point.”
And it’s pretty clear that she won’t let up any time soon, especially if she gets a ticket to Tokyo in a few days.
Carli Lloyd, 38, becomes oldest player to score for USWNT
At 38 years and 332 days old, Lloyd took over a record previously held by Kristine Lilly. Her goal was also the second-fastest in USWNT history.
In April, Lloyd became the third player in the history of men's and women's international soccer to earn her 300th cap in the USWNT's 1-1 draw against Sweden.
DON’T COUNT HER OUT: A focused Lloyd, 38, is out to prove to her critics that she still has plenty left in her tank
And now in her 39th year, Lloyd is out to prove her critics and skeptics wrong as she prepares for her fourth Olympics. Well, she hasn’t been selected just yet, but it likely will be difficult for Vlatko Andonovski not to put her on the 18-player roster for the Tokyo Summer Games.
She’s one tough cookie who is focused on winning a third gold medal, demonstrating so in the USWNT’s 4-0 win over Jamaica in the Summer Series Sunday night, scoring the second fastest goal (23 seconds) in team history and becoming the oldest player to find the net (38 years, 332 days), breaking Kristine Lilly’s record.
U.S. SOCCER GREAT CARLI LLOYD REMAINS ‘GOAL’-FOCUSED FOR TOKYO OLYMPICS
The soccer supremo has also started working with expert trainer, Chris Halladay. “He introduced me to a new type of training that is a neurological-based physics approach, to help with sports performance and movements,” says Lloyd. “Since I started training with Chris back in November 2020, I’ve never moved better. I’m more explosive than I have ever been, and stronger than I was before my injury. It’s played a huge factor in my game at the age of 38.”
As a player, she understands that staying on top means constantly pushing herself. “I have always tried to continue to break barriers with my fitness to become the best that I can be,” says Lloyd. “As I have gotten older, I have valued this even more so I can be as efficient as possible. I’ve found that throughout my career, bodyweight exercises, plyometrics, and soccer specific-fitness has helped me feel my best and contribute to the career longevity I have had.”