Leave it to Carli Lloyd to win the World Cup at 37 years of age, appearing in every match as the team’s crucial super-sub and performing the role with aplomb, and still being extremely mad at how everything went down because she didn’t play literally every single minute of every single game.
The Sky Blue and USWNT captain explained as much on Julie Foudy’s Laughter Permitted podcast. There, Lloyd talked about a whole lot of things, including donuts, her training regimen, and the hubbub around her hitting an NFL field goal. Most notably, Lloyd was very blunt about her experience in France this past summer. In her words, “it sucked.”
There’s no denying it. I deserved to be on that field that whole World Cup, but I wasn’t. And I think I’ve grown as a person, as a player. It sucked. It absolutely sucked.
To elaborate a bit, Lloyd said her attitude about last summer’s World Cup is a reflection of her attitude throughout her journey to the top of women’s soccer. From being cut by the U.S. U-21 team to winning gold at the 2012 Olympics to then putting on a ridiculous performance in the 2015 World Cup final, Lloyd said she thrived because of her confidence in herself and the confidence of those making decisions for the USWNT. When she felt that latter confidence start to wane as the team began to phase her out in favor of younger players, Lloyd said it began the “worst three years of my life.” To be clear, that time period included winning a World Cup in which she scored three goals and played in all seven of the team’s games.
Lloyd said she’d had discussions with manager Jill Ellis about her role on the team, but that there was a disagreement about what Lloyd still had left to contribute:
I had loads of conversations with Jill. For me, it’s about being honest. There’s a difference of me not being able to do it versus me being able to do it. Ever since I came back from my injury [in 2017], and just my career in general, I’ve continued to climb this ladder and I’ve continued to get better.
I had conversations with her. I remember one in particular where she told me I’ve done it all. “You have nothing left to prove.” And I said that I have a lot to prove. I’m going to prove until the day I’m done playing that I can be the best I can be.
It was absolutely the worst time of my life. It affected my relationship with my husband, with friends. It really was rock bottom of my entire career.
Most rock bottoms tend to look a lot worse than being the first sub off the bench for a World Cup-winning side, but hey. Lloyd did say she’s learned and grown from the experience:
Somehow, you see light at the end of the tunnel, and I can honestly say I’m having more fun now playing than I ever have in my career. I think I just learned a lot throughout it.
As for the future, now that Ellis will no longer be managing the national team, Lloyd was typically blunt about what she wants from the next coach of the USWNT:
I hope a coach comes in that values me, respects me, wants me as a part of the Olympic plans. There’s no question my abilities are there. I’m able to do it. Physically I’m able to do it. I would love to be a part of it, but I want to have an open, honest conversation, because if I’m not, I can’t go through what I went through for three years.
The most elite of elite athletes are often competitive lunatics of this sort, so it’s not much of a surprise nor is it bad that a player who has been and still is as great as Lloyd would guard her playing time so jealously. And after seeing what Pissed Off Carli Lloyd could do last summer, sign us up for more of the same during next year’s Olympics.