U.S. Women's National Team Legend Kristine Lilly Will Not Play in 2008
CHICAGO (January 7, 2008) – Kristine Lilly, the captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team for the last three years, will not play international soccer in 2008 as she is expecting her first child with husband David Heavey, a firefighter in Brookline, Mass.
The news means that Lilly, who has played in every Women’s World Cup and Olympics ever contested by the United States (eight total tournaments) will not play in the 2008 Olympics should the USA qualify in April. Lilly is due in July.
“I’m not closing any doors as far as soccer,” said Lilly, who has played 340 games for the USA. “I hope to play in the new league and if one day I get the chance to play for (new U.S. head coach) Pia (Sundhage), that would be fantastic. But for now, I’m focusing on becoming a mom for the first time and everything that goes with that experience.”
Lilly, 36, is one of the most legendary female players in world history. She debuted for the USA in 1987 at the age of 16 and played 22 years for her country. In addition to holding the world record for caps, she has scored 129 career international goals, second only in women’s soccer history to Mia Hamm (158).
“I am excited about having a baby and being home with my husband, but the process of stepping away from the game and my teammates has been a bit emotional,” said Lilly. “I will miss the game, but I will miss being around my teammates even more. When you do something for over 20 years, it will just take some time to adjust to a new lifestyle. I plan to continue promoting soccer by running my camps, doing clinics and appearances, as well as looking into starting a foundation. I may be stepping away from the game for a bit, but I won’t stop supporting it.”
Lilly played in her historic 300th career match on Jan. 18, 2006, against Norway, at the Four Nations Tournament in China, becoming the first man or woman to reach that milestone.
A two-time Olympic and Women’s World Cup champion, Lilly played most of her career in the midfield, but moved to forward during the last three years and scored 25 goals in 2006 and 2007, many of them game-winners in several major tournaments.
She was the only U.S. player named to the FIFA All-Tournament Team after the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and is the only U.S. player to appear in every Women’s World Cup and Olympic match the USA has ever played, starting all but one.
Lilly has won three U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Awards (including 2005 and 2006), and finished second in voting for the 2006 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She finished seventh in voting for the FIFA award in 2007.
Lilly has played for Sundhage on two different club teams, including the Boston Breakers (WUSA) and for KIF Orebro (Sweden) for a few months in 2005.