When I watch the U.S. Women’s National Team my eyes always find Carli Lloyd roaming the midfield. She’s the pendulum in the middle of the USWNT’s midfield.
Lloyd operates inbetween the lines — working off the ball to find good positioning. She finds the space behind the opposition’s defense and knows how to pick the pass to spring her forwards into that space. She tracks back well and always demands the ball when the U.S. is trying to build its attack. She’s not as heralded as Alex Morgan or Abby Wambach because she doesn’t score goals in bunches. She’s a play-maker who has a knack for hitting blistering shots from outside the penalty area.
The last time the USWNT headed to the Olympics, Lloyd scored the game winner in the finals against Brazil. Now, after a successful qualifying campaign, Lloyd and the USWNT is trying to replicate the success it had in 2008 when they head to London.
Here’s an interview with the USWNT midfielder about the upcoming Olympic games, Spain’s revolution, the possibility of playing overseas and the future of women’s soccer in the U.S.
KCKRS: How do you feel going into the Olympics in a few weeks?
Carli Lloyd: Me personally, I feel really good. I continue to break barriers as far as fitness and my game sense on the field. I’ve become a much smarter player and I’m reading the game a lot better. I’m feeling really fit and strong, confident and ready to go.
I think the team, you know, we’ve gotten some good results this year. I think we’ve got a great squad of players that could all start any game and we’re really strong going into it.
KCKRS: How do you carryover your great form from qualifying to the Olympics?
Carli Lloyd: It’s definitely still the same approach. This is what I’ve been training for. This is why I’ve been waking up early and going to run and working my butt off. This is it and I’ve got to leave it all out on the field with every opportunity I get. I think the one thing with me is that I do well in tournaments. I get stronger as each game goes on, more comfortable, more confident, so there is no stress on my end or pressure. I’m just going to go out there, keep it simple, keep the game flowing and help my teammates in anyway I can.
KCKRS: Why do you think you stronger as each game comes in tournaments?
Carli Lloyd: I think it’s the nature of how I’ve been training and how my body is. i think my body works kinda different than other people. The more games I play the more tired and sore it gets, but I’ve trained to fight through that and actually feel good and I get stronger as each game goes on. i definitely think it’s the training regimen I’ve been doing. But I also think you also get into a game rhythm. You get into the first game, and my approach to first games has been to just keep it simple and play what i see and then you get more and more confident and your game rhythm comes out and thats when I think I continue to get stronger as each games goes on.
KCKRS: What are you looking to show people at the Olympics?
Carli Lloyd: I want to continue to do what I have been doing and that’s being a play-maker in the center of the field, that’s making smart passes, creating goal-scoring opportunities for myself, creating goal-scoring opportunities for my teammates, finding through balls, and taking long-range shots. Just doing what I do and also defensively winning tackles, headers and getting stuck in defensively. And just bringing an overall solid game.
KCKRS: I saw that you were watching the Euros, so what team inspired you the most?
Carli Lloyd: I think there were a lot of great team. I’m a big fan of Barcelona, so I’m a big fan of Spain as well. I think they’re just on another planet on how they play. That’s kind of what I look for in teams. People may sit there and say, ‘well they’re boring, they just pass the ball back and forth when they’re five yards apart.’ To me, that’s the way soccer should be played. Players like Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta, and [Bastian] Schweinsteiger for Germany are the players I look up to, even Pirlo (from Italy). Whereas a lot of other players just see the goalscorers like [Mario] Gomez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. You know, it’s the players that I named that get it all done and people rarely ever see that because they’re overshadowed by the goalscorers.
I thought Italy did a great job. I liked the way Russia started to play and even Ukraine and the Czech Republic. I think all of the games were phenomenal to watch and there is always something you can learn. It was a great two-three weeks being able to watch these top teams play.
KCKRS: Do you think the way Spain plays is pushing soccer in a positive direction?
Carli Lloyd: For sure. I think that everyone saw Spain put on a clinic and they ended up with four goals [in the Euro finals against Italy]. Those passes aren’t just passes to get the ball off their foot. They’re passes to suck defenders, make the other team chase. I mean, if you’ve been chasing the game for 45 minutes just to win the ball it’s going to be a long second half.
Yeah, I think teams are striving to play like that. Spain made history. They’re increasing the game sense and how it should be played. I think it’s exciting. They ended up with four goals in the final really not playing with any true forwards, so it goes to show you what they’re capable of doing.
KCKRS: Where do you think Women’s Soccer in the U.S. is going and what’s the next step?
Carli Lloyd: I think we need to start small. I think we need to start smaller than the WUSA league and smaller than the WPS. It just can’t work paying people the salaries that they were paying, playing in the venues they were playing. It almost has to be a league like a WPSL league, start from there and work its way up. Play in smaller stadiums until ticket sales grow because let’s face it, if ticket sales aren’t there people aren’t making any money.
I think everything needs to start off small and be patient because obviously the last two leagues didn’t work out and there needs to be a lot of changes. I think even partnering with MLS would be a good idea. I’m not in the business side fo things, but that’s the word I’ve heard, to go that route.
It needs to come back. Little girls need to dream of playing professional soccer and at the moment it’s only the national team here and everyone knows not a ton of people get in the national team pool. It’s hard. I do hope something gets rolling and we take our time and we’re patient about it and all parties work through it — players, owners, coaches, U.S. Soccer — to make something sustain.
KCKRS: Have you ever thought of going overseas to play?
Carli Lloyd: Yeah, there is always a possibility. The last couple of years it’s been tough because we have so much going on with the national team, so there really hasn’t been an opportunity to go overseas. A lot can happen.
We’re not sure if Pia [Sundhage] is going to stick around. If she’s going to stay or leave, so there is a lot of unknown after the Olympics, but I’ll tackle those after when it’s needed. I have a great training environment here in new Jersey with my trainer, so for me I’m OK. I know I’ll continue to improve, continue to get strong, and if need be I would definitely go overseas and play.