Carli Lloyd had hinted that the end was near, and Monday it became official: The U.S. women's national team legend is retiring.
Lloyd will play out the rest of the NWSL season with NJ/NY Gotham FC and participate in four to-be-announced USWNT friendlies before hanging up her cleats and calling it a day on one of the most decorated careers in U.S. soccer history. Her top accomplishments are well-documented. She's a two-time Women's World Cup champion, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a two-time FIFA Women's Player of the Year and the author of a World Cup final hat trick in 2015 that won't soon be forgotten. She's been renowned for her work ethic, the ability to sustain a seemingly endless source of motivation and the mentality to keep her at or near the top of the game as she approaches her 40s.
“When I first started out with the national team in 2005, my two main goals were to be the most complete soccer player I could be and to help the team win championships.” Lloyd said in a statement. “Every single day I stepped out onto the field, I played as if it was my last game. I never wanted to take anything for granted, especially knowing how hard it is to get to the top, but even harder to stay at the top for so long.
“Through all the goals, the trophies, the medals and the championships won, what I am most proud of is that I’ve been able to stay unapologetically me,” she added. My journey has been hard, but I can honestly say I’ve stayed true to myself, to my teammates, my coaches, the media and the fans throughout my entire career and that is what I am most proud of. Everyone sees the moments of glory, but I have cherished the work behind the scenes and the adversity that I’ve had to overcome to get to those glorious moments.”
Lloyd turned 39 in July and became the USWNT's oldest Olympian ever when she made the trip to Japan, where the U.S. won bronze. She scored two goals in the bronze-medal game, with her second winding up as the game-winner in a 4–3 triumph over Australia. Her goals in the 2008 and ’12 Olympics clinched gold for the U.S., yet her most famous goal came in the ’15 World Cup final vs. Japan, when she launched from the center circle at Vancouver's BC Place to cap her hat trick just over 15 minutes into the title match.
While her career can be boiled down to clutch moments, the totality of it is equally as impressive. Her 312 caps (a number that should reach 316) are second-most in international soccer history, trailing only U.S. great Kristine Lilly's 354. Her 128 goals are fourth-most in U.S. national team history (Lilly's third-highest total of 130 is within reach), and her 25 World Cup appearances and 22 Olympic appearances are the most among USWNT players all-time.
“I would like to thank U.S. Soccer for helping to provide the opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful to have represented the crest and to be able to play for my country for the last 17 years,” Lloyd said. “I will continue to support and cheer this team on and continue to find ways to help grow the game and inspire the next generation.
“To end my career knowing my family was able to be by my side and share this last chapter with me could not have been any more special. We will all have a lot more time to spend together now, and especially with my husband, Brian, who has been my rock and biggest support system for all these years. We are both looking forward to starting this next chapter of our lives without my everyday grind of training and playing, but I will most likely need to another outlet for my competitiveness! Perhaps that will be golf?”
For what it's worth, Lloyd had previously suggested she would be into the idea of trying to become a kicker in the NFL, and two years ago she said that there had been inquiries from teams about the possibility.
In the meantime, Lloyd has a season to complete and a few more U.S. matches to play. For all the glory she has enjoyed on the international level, there are still heights to reach on the club level. The only club trophy she has won is an FA Cup title with Manchester City. A league championship with Gotham FC, which currently sits third in the NWSL table, would mark a rare first in a career that has otherwise been comprehensive. Regardless, she'll play out the next few months knowing that, for the first time, the finish line is indeed in sight.
“Carli has been the embodiment of the DNA of a USWNT player,” USWNT general manger Kate Markgraf said. “Her contributions have no doubt played a major part in the years of success of this team—inspiring both those who played with her and those who will wear the jersey in the future. She goes down as one of the best in the history of the program.”
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