United States Women’s National Team veteran Carli Lloyd earned her 200th cap for her country on Friday, and scored the game-winning goal to send the USA to the semifinals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Lloyd is no stranger to owning big moments. The 32-year-old central midfielder scored game-winning goals for the #USWNT in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Finals. Lloyd acknowledges that scoring the game-winning goal on her 200th cap is high up on her list of career accolades, but exactly where it ranks is still to be determined. Lloyd, a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, has yet to hoist a World Cup trophy.
“If it were the World Cup final it would definitely be the moment.” Lloyd emphasizes. “But, it’s a quarterfinal, which is still great but I want more and I think that’s what keeps me going and keeps me motivated. I want to be in that final game and standing on the top podium after that final whistle is blown.”
Lloyd is the U.S. WNT all-time leading goalscorer for a player that has played exclusively as a midfielder and she has been working tirelessly on her aerial game over the past 12 months with trainer James Galanis. “James is probably really happy I put that one away.” Carli said of her towering game-winning header against China. “He’s served me a million balls over the years and he’s always telling me that I need to be more of an aerial presence and attack the ball. That’s what I did. It’s all about the repetition.”
U.S. WNT teammate and 23-year-old centerback Julie Johnston earned the assist on Lloyd’s game-winning header against China on Friday and said she played the ball into the box knowing what the outcome could be. “Carli is going to go up for whatever ball comes her way,” said Johnston, who has helped the U.S. WNT earn four shutouts through five matches of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Despite being 10 years into her U.S. WNT career, Lloyd still fondly remembers her first cap for the USA. The U.S. WNT earned a 7-0 victory against Ukraine July 10, 2005. Lloyd recalls the feeling of uncertainty; unsure if she would even get into the match. She did get in – playing nearly 20 minutes. But her most vivid memory from that first cap with the senior team was of seeing her name on the back of her jersey.
“It was so cool and such an honor to see my name on the back of my jersey knowing that the U.S. crest was on the front [as she pointed towards the location of the U.S. crest above her heart]."
“Here I am now, 200 caps later,” Lloyd remarks with pride. “I still get that same feeling every time I put on my jersey. It is never a guarantee to be on this field having an opportunity to represent my country. I will never take it for granted.”
“The 200th cap has crept up on me,” Lloyd continues. “It’s crazy when you think of the other players who are in that category. Some of the most amazing players to ever play for this team and you seldom stop to think about all that you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve gotten. This is a moment I won't forget, but it is just the quarterfinal and we’ve got two more games left to win this thing and bring the trophy home and that’s what matters.”