What is it with Delran and soccer and Rutgers and the World Cup?

First, there was Peter Vermes, a 1984 Delran High School graduate who went on to play soccer at Rutgers and then for the U.S. men's national team at the 1990 World Cup.

Now, there is Carli Lloyd, a 2004 Delran graduate who went on to play soccer at Rutgers and is a star for the U.S. women's national team that will play Sunday against Japan in the 2011 championship game.

Lloyd, a two-time Inquirer South Jersey girls' soccer player of the year, turns 29 on Saturday.

"I'm so happy for Carli," Vermes, the coach of Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City, said in an e-mail. "We have a lot in common, being from Delran and going to Rutgers, and I wish her all the best. She really is a tremendous competitor, and it's shown in this tournament."

This is the second World Cup for Lloyd. She also scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 overtime victory over Brazil in the gold-medal game of the 2008 Olympics.

"I'm ecstatic for them," Vermes said of the women's team, which is going for a third World Cup title. "It's been such a pleasure to watch this team play. They play every roll of the ball, and they're reaping those benefits right now."

Vermes was named the 1988 U.S. Soccer male athlete of the year. He also played in the 1988 Olympics and 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He ended his international career with 67 caps and played for three MLS teams and was the MLS defender of the year in 2000.

- Marc Narducci