Carli Lloyd has hung up her boots. In September the three-time World Cup and two-time Gold Medal winner for the United States announced her retirement from the game at the end of the 2021 season. Her career was revolutionary. Coming at a time when access to women’s matches was becoming more readily available across the world, her attacking prowess fundamentally altered the way the women’s game was viewed.
Soccer 360’s Sean Maslin breaks down some of her biggest moments of her career and the impact that they had on the development of not just the women’s game, but on the game as a whole.
The Return (2011 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Intercontinental Playoff)
2010 was a tough time for both Lloyd and the United States Women’s National Team. With Lloyd still coming back from a knee injury, the United States struggled at the 2010 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Tournament, losing to Mexico and finishing third. Failing to secure the automatic qualification spot, the USWNT had to play in a two-game playoff series with Italy. Fully healed from her knee injury and with a World Cup spot on the line, Lloyd delivered, playing every minute of the series and scoring three goals.
The Gold Medal Winner (2008 Summer Olympics)
Lloyd versus Marta. Sports are often marked by rivalries and in women’s football in the 2000s there are few that are as big as Lloyd versus Marta. The two strikers have redefined the role in the women’s game and provided so many highlights for young players to emulate at home. Their biggest match against one another was the 2008 Summer Olympics Gold Medal match, where both players traded attacking chances only to come just short. In extratime, it was Lloyd that would lift her side to victory, with a cracking strike to earn Gold.
The Brace (2012 Summer Games Gold Medal)
After losing in the previous World Cup Final to Japan, the USWNT came into the 2012 Summer Games final looking for a bit of revenge. In front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, the U.S. got one back on their rivals with Lloyd scoring twice to give them the early advantage and the gold medal. With her second goal, she became the first player ever to score two game-winning goals in an Olympic Gold Medal final.
The Hat Trick (2015 World Cup Final)
Getting a hat trick in any match is special, but in a World Cup Final it makes you a legend. Lloyd joined Geoff Hurst as being the only other player to ever score a hat trick in a World Cup Final. So scoring a hat trick in the World Cup final is pretty difficult, right? Here’s the kicker when it comes to Lloyd’s performance: she scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the match. This final felt very much like the rubber match between the two sides, with the victor getting to lay claim to being the top team of the era. Lloyd and the USWNT attack put any question about who was the top side away early, hammering the vaunted Nadeshiko defense and earning the 5-2 win. In a game where there were so many incredible performances from the USWNT, Lloyd’s is at the top.
The FA Cup Winner (2017 FA Women’s Cup Final)
Lloyd’s time in Manchester City may have been brief but she certainly made a major impact. In the FA Women’s Cup Final against Birmingham City, she made her mark heading home City’s third goal of the match to put the match away. Although her time in England was limited, it provided the club system a much-needed shot in the arm. Her signing showed both the English FA and club owners the possibilities if they invest in the women’s game. It also opened the door for many American superstar players to make the jump to Europe.