Over the course of the last few decades, the United States has produced a surprising number of women’s soccer greats. As a result, the women’s national team has enjoyed a lengthy run as one of the most competitive forces in the sport. Key players have included the legendary Mia Hamm, Michelle Ackers, and Abby Wambach, to name just three.
Another player who deserves serious consideration as one of the all-time American greats is midfielder Carli Lloyd. Lloyd cemented her place in women’s soccer through years of dazzling performances at the highest level. Now nearing the end of her career, Lloyd recently revealed how basketball legend Kobe Bryant inspired her attitude to retirement.
Carli Lloyd’s impressive soccer career
Lloyd first established herself as a star-caliber player while attending Rutgers University in New Jersey. Meanwhile, she was also playing for the United States’ youth national teams. She made her first appearance with the senior national team back in 2005, and since then she has never looked back as one of the most consistent and dominant players in the sport.
One of Lloyd’s biggest moments came in the gold-medal match of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The game remained deadlocked until Lloyd finally scored a goal in the 96th minute, thus earned the United States a gold medal. Lloyd also scored two goals in the final game of the 2012 Summer Olympics, garnering another gold medal in the process.
Lloyd also helped lead the women’s national team to two World Cup victories. Arguably her single most impressive performance came in the 2015 World Cup final, when she scored three goals.
Over the course of her career with the US women’s national team, Lloyd has appeared in 294 games, scored 123 goals, and racked up 58 assists (per USSoccer.com).
How Kobe Bryant inspired Carli Lloyd not to fear retirement
One of the most impressive things about Lloyd has been her ability to maintain the same elite level of performance throughout her career. In fact, she has shown relatively few signs of decline as she ages. Yet all athletic careers must eventually come to an end, and with Lloyd having turned 38 back in July, her time is growing ever shorter.
For many athletes, the topic of retirement causes much anxiety and existential confusion. Lloyd, on the other hand, has kept a remarkably cool head about the end of her career — thanks in large part to the example set by the late basketball superstar Kobe Bryant. In a profile with Business Insider, Lloyd highlighted Bryant’s ability to thrive after retirement, saying:
“He did so much for the sport, but watching him in these last couple of years post-retirement just gave me a sense of feeling of what my post-soccer career might look like.”
Whether Lloyd will be as successful as Bryant in retirement remains to be seen, but she is clearly determined to try and live up to the example he set.
One last trip to the Olympics?
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Carli Lloyd is ready to hang up her cleats just yet. Lloyd had been looking forward to helping the women’s national team try and reclaim Olympic gold at the 2020 summer games in Tokyo.
When those Olympics were canceled due to the Coronavirus, many people wondered whether Lloyd would retire without getting a last chance at vindication.
Fortunately for soccer fans, it looks like Lloyd will stick around long enough to participate in the Olympic Games, which will be held next summer. According to Olympic Channel, Lloyd herself confirmed as much in a recent podcast appearance, stating:
“My long-term goal is to make another Olympic team and win another Olympic gold medal. Hopefully that dream can come true next summer and then I’ll probably get a little taste of retirement and the next chapter.”