When the USA opens the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup against North Korea on Sept. 11 in Chengdu (ESPN2 at 5 a.m. ET), it could have as many as five players in the starting lineup who have never played in a Women’s World Cup before. One of them could be midfielder Carli Lloyd, who has developed into an impact player this year, scoring seven goals, good for third best on the team. During some down time in China (there is a lot of it), Carli sat down with ussoccer.com’s Center Circle and answered 11 questions, ranging from her canon shot, to her thoughts on her World Cup debut match, to the quality of pearls in China.
ussoccer.com: What did you do on the 13-hour flight over to China?
Carli Lloyd: “I slept an hour, at the most. I fell asleep at the beginning of the flight, and when I woke up, I moved from my bulkhead seat to a middle seat with a few of the other players, but at least I could stretch out my legs. I chatted a lot with Marian Dalmy and Tina Ellertson. I also made friends with the flight attendant, Mr. Ho. He was cool and told us a lot about shopping in Shanghai. I also listed to music and read a little.”
ussoccer.com: This is your first world championship at any level. Any pre-tournament nerves?
CL: “I think as the games get closer, I’ll be nervous for sure. Definitely stepping out on the field to warm up, I’ll be as nervous as ever, but I’ve got the veterans to help me out. The hard part is done. I’ve done the training and the fitness, so now it’s about going out and just playing.”
ussoccer.com: After you scored against New Zealand in Chicago, you celebrated with a sort of chopping motion with your arms, imitating a shark’s jaws, in honor of your teammate Marci “the Mako” Jobson. What was the story behind that?
CL: “Our massage therapist Kara Mirarchi told me that when Marci heads the ball, she looks like a shark jumping out of the water. Since I’m close with Marci, I always like to share a goal with her and the other players on the bench. It was a little bit of a tough week for me and I was really happy to score that goal so it just kind of came out, giving Marci a shout-out in her hometown.”
ussoccer.com: Any celebration plans if you bag one in the Women’s World Cup?
CL: “I don’t have any planned celebrations, but I think if I do score, I’ll go more nuts than any other goal I’ve ever scored. I think if anyone on our team scores, I’ll go nuts. Maybe one of those sliding into the corner flag things?”
ussoccer.com: We heard you’ve done a bit of shopping in Shanghai?
CL: “I am a bit of a hermit on the road sometimes, I like to stay in my room and relax. But the minute our General Manager Cheryl Baily mentioned some pearl shopping, my eyes lit up. I bought a lot of stuff for myself, my mom and my sister and I plan on going back. That’s my type of shopping, I like to shop for jewelry and China is known for its pearls. I got a really good price for it all.”
ussoccer.com: You are known for your marathon DVD watching sessions on the road. What have you been watching in China?
CL: “I’ve been watching Beverly Hills 90210, Season 2. I’ve run out of current shows to watch since I’m caught up on all of them. There’s just a lot of drama with Brandon and Dylan and all those guys. Marci and I think it’s really cheesy but we can’t stop watching. I also brought some Seinfeld episodes.”
ussoccer.com: You have a reputation for striking amazing shots from distance. What are you thinking when you square up from 25 yards or more?
CL: “I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not really thinking about the particular shot or pass. I’ve practiced the correct techniques over and over again and it kind of comes out naturally now. I just hit it and try to get it on frame.”
ussoccer.com: You got a chance to play some forward in scrimmages before the U.S. team left for China. How fun was that?
CL: “It was a lot of fun. I’ve played forward before in college and it was great getting a chance to play up there closer to the goal. It was a good change up from the middle, although I do enjoy that role in the midfield because you can do a lot of things from there. Now I know how much fun Kristine Lilly is having after she made the switch.”
ussoccer.com: Earlier in your National Team career, you had major groin strain issues. How did you manage to overcome that?
CL: “I think that it mainly had to do with me not being fit. I had a turning point in my life about four years ago. I changed the way I ate, drank, stretched and just took care of my body. I’m doing those things now. Last January in China, I had my first serious injury, spraining my ankle. Our trainer, Michelle Gould, did a great job helping me get back for the games. She lives close to me so when I go back home, I can meet with her and she treats me and helps me keep my body in tune.”
ussoccer.com: What is left for the team to accomplish before the Women’s World Cup games start?
CL: “I think we just need to put on the finishing touches. We’re really coming together as a team now. We’re all on the same page. We have just eight or nine days left of training and this is it. We just have to focus and bring all of our combined energy to the games. If we do that, we will be difficult to stop.”
ussoccer.com: We hear that you designed some special NikeiD cleats for the Women’s World Cup?
CL: “I actually did three different boots. I will try to wear them all during the tournament. I chose some appropriate colors and some flashy colors and I have some meaningful things written on them. I can’t wait to wear them.”