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Carli Lloyd saves Sky Blue FC from winless season, then turns fire on troubled front office

The Delran native criticized Sky Blue's under-funding of training infrastructure, travel and other matters – and hopes for an audience with co-owner and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Sky Blue FC against the Orlando Pride.
Carli Lloyd celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal for Sky Blue FC against the Orlando Pride.Read moreCourtesy of Sky Blue FC

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — It was news enough that Carli Lloyd scored a spectacular goal that gave Sky Blue FC a 1-0 win over the Orlando Pride on Saturday afternoon. The win was Sky Blue's first of the season, and it came in the season finale, sparing the team from the first winless campaign in National Women's Soccer League history.

The real fireworks came after the game, when Lloyd spoke about bombshell exposés of Sky Blue's poor facilities published in July by Equalizer Soccer and other outlets. Sky Blue's biggest star had been notably reluctant to address the subject, and admitted her previous stance was intentional. Now the Delran native was ready to let loose, and she sure did.

"F­­rom a performance standpoint, travel, food, just important things, facilities that really help performance, it's important," she said. "And I'd be lying to say that things don't need to be better, because they do need to be better, and hopefully I can help."

Lloyd acknowledged that because of her status, she avoids some problems that affect her teammates. Among the big ones: the 36-year-old doesn't live in team-sponsored housing, but lives with her husband at their home in Mount Laurel.

"I think that with the age gap — I hate to say it — it's a little different when a 26-year-old is maybe talking about their roommate," she said. "As the season went on, I started to talk more and more with players, and didn't really know that stuff in years prior to this had gone on. … Some of the stuff was pretty shocking."

Having heard her teammates loud and clear, Lloyd intends to talk to team management and ownership during the offseason. That includes New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, a co-owner.

"There needs to be some accountability and some professionalism, and I think we do need to make that better," Lloyd said. "I think that all of the things that have come out, we can say to ourselves that's a good thing. How can we make this better? Because we don't want another team folding. We don't want another team that's kind of falling out of the pack in the NWSL."

General manager Tony Novo was grilled by reporters at Rutgers' Yurcak Field, Sky Blue's home venue — and one of its biggest problems. It's a fair facility for college soccer, but its locker rooms aren't fit for professionals. They lack showers and standard fitness equipment.

Novo promised improvements, especially to subsidized housing for lower-paid players. And he promised that the team's owners are ready to spend more money to treat the players right.

"They are able and they're willing to do that," Novo said. "The conversation I've had with ownership is that we will continue to support this team, we will continue to raise the resources and raise the standards, and make it better for the players."

Time will tell if those promises are kept. At least for one day, Sky Blue had something to celebrate. And Lloyd could bask in her third goal in two games for club and country, having scored twice for the U.S. against Chile last Tuesday.

>> READ MORE: Carli Lloyd scores twice in second half as U.S. women beat Chile, 4-0

"If I ever do write another book, this will obviously be a nice big chapter of obstacle and struggle, and just going through moment after moment of being close to a win and it not happening," she said. "This has, honestly, probably been one of the toughest seasons of my career, but it's good to go out on a win like this."