US SoccerUS Soccer

Lloyd Looks Back on Monster Game-Winner vs. Japan

SHENGYANG, China (Aug. 10, 2008) -- One goal can change everything.

One goal can win a game. Keep your team in a tournament. Even excise some demons.

Just ask Carli Lloyd.

Her strike in the 27th minute of the USA’s 1-0 victory over Japan on Aug. 9 did all of that and perhaps a bit more.

“Anytime you score first, it always builds confidence and you really feel like you can embrace the game and take control,” said Lloyd. “It was important goal for the team because you always want to see hard work rewarded with goals.”

A top player on the USA’s U-21 Women’s National Team during her college career at Rutgers, where she often put the Scarlet Knights on her back, Lloyd’s finally earned her first cap on at the senior level in 2005.

She worked her way into a consistent spot in USA’s starting line-up in 2007, displaying some attacking qualities rarely seen from an American midfielder despite the storied history of the team. Her ability to beat players one-on-one, eat up yards of space on the dribble and uncork thunderous shots from distance signaled something special in the works.

But she struggled at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Perhaps it was due to the enormity of playing in her first World Cup. Perhaps it was the three horrendously difficult games in the first round. Or perhaps it was her style not meshing well with the way the team was playing.

Whatever it was, she dedicated 2008 to preparing to succeed at the Olympics. She focused on improving her fitness, her defense and combining better with the rest of the U.S. attack. Most importantly, she worked on developing her relationship with fellow center mid Shannon Boxx.

“I’ve always had so much respect for Boxxy,” said Lloyd. “She’s blue collar, but she also very technically clean with everything she does. I feel she’s helped me so much on the defending side of things and been very patient with me. I think Pia has given us the opportunity to be able to connect in the middle of the field with one another and when we can get that rhythm going, it really helps the overall attack.”

The goal against Japan was the 18th of Lloyd’s career, putting her fourth among U.S. players all-time who have exclusively played midfield. She knows however, that one goal does not a career, or a tournament make.

Still, her added maturity has also taught her that even when she doesn’t score, she can help the team win.

“I love scoring goals and always have,” said Lloyd. “But at this level, goals are so hard to come by that everyone has to do the little things that produce chances. As long as we are winning, I’ll play whatever role I need to but it felt really good to be able to step up in a big game and get a goal like that.”