MINNEAPOLIS — In reviewing the many noteworthy statistics from Carli Lloyd’s career, here’s one that stands out.
No player in the U.S. women’s soccer team’s decorated history has played in more major tournament games — World Cups and Olympics — than the 39-year-old from Delran.
Not Mia Hamm or Michelle Akers, the first two names carved into American women’s soccer’s Mount Rushmore.
Not Kristine Lilly, the only player in women’s soccer history with more international caps (354) than Lloyd (315); or Christie Pearce Rampone, who has played in the most major tournaments (nine) and is the only U.S. player with five major titles (Lloyd has four).
Not Briana Scurry or Hope Solo, who between them sustained 22 years of American goalkeeping dominance; or Abby Wambach, holder of U.S. records for most major tournament goals (23) and most career goals (184). Lloyd is second to Wambach in major tournament goals (20) and third in career goals (134; Hamm is second with 158).
From 2007-21, Lloyd played in 47 games across eight major tournaments — and she left four of them with championships.
“I think that’s a testament to her longevity, but I also think that’s a testament to her just being a winner,” current U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “When she’s on the team — and she obviously is a big-game player — she’s shown up in some of the biggest games that women’s soccer has to offer. And we go long in those tournaments, and a big reason is because we have players like Carli Lloyd.”
On Tuesday night at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn., just a few miles from where her beloved Eagles won the Super Bowl, Lloyd will suit up for the national team for the final time when the U.S. plays South Korea (8 p.m., FS1 and TUDN).
She might add to her goals total, but the major-tournament appearances record is set in stone. And as women’s soccer grows and evolves, the record seems likely to stand for quite a while. The only current U.S. players in the top 10 for such games are Alex Morgan (age 32) and Tobin Heath (33), both of whom have played in 34 such games. That’s a 13-game differential, almost two full tournaments’ worth.
‘The ultimate professional’
“She’s just had an incredible career — so much success, especially in big tournaments where she has been pivotal for this team,” Morgan said. “And she’s just been the ultimate professional. So I think that it’s just been a really good example for young players.”
One of the players who has learned from Lloyd is midfielder Lindsey Horan, who will inherit Lloyd’s No. 10 national team jersey — soccer’s most sacred jersey number. The 27-year-old has earned national team 105 caps, and will become one of the program’s veteran leaders as Lloyd’s era of stars heads towards the sunset.
“Her mentality, I think you see it every single day if you’re if you’re around her,” Horan said. “Every single training session, she’s always in it, and always wants to win, always wants to be better, always wants to get better. Does the stuff off the field, you know, the recovery, every single detail — that’s Carli Lloyd.”
Horan has seen it ever since she made her senior national team debut as an 18-year-old in March 2013. She came with a lot of hype, having been the first marquee U.S. prospect who turned down college soccer — and not just any college, but the North Carolina dynasty — to turn pro with France’s Paris Saint-Germain a few months before. The spotlight has been on her ever since.
“Over the past few years, she’s been such a role model for me, and I’ve gotten closer and closer with her, and gotten to learn so much from her,” Horan said. “At first I thought she was a little bit of a crazy person, but now, over time, you just realize that’s Carli — and that’s what made her become the player that she is.”
Lloyd’s turn to thank her teammates came during a news conference Monday afternoon.
“This is a team sport: this takes 11 players on the field, it takes players on the bench, it takes players coming in for a camp or two,” she said. “Everyone has pushed me, I’ve pushed them, and I’m super thankful for that. … I’m going to miss them dearly, and I’m going to be the biggest fan.”
She knows the impact she has had on them.
“I’m sure there were times when maybe my focus was too intense, but I gave it all I had, and I think that’s what’s really special walking away from this,” she said. “I know that I’ve probably been misunderstood by teammates, coaches, fans, and just about everybody. But I’ve just tried to give my most authentic self — truthful, honest, raw.”
And the impact on her of being part of the national team is as profound now as it was when she first made the senior team 17 years ago.
“Every email I get notifying me that I’m getting invited into the next camp has always been the same feeling I’ve gotten, even up until this last camp where I knew I was coming in,” she said. “Towards the end of my career, I think people have a greater understanding of what I’m about, why I’ve been the way that I’ve been, and that I’ve just wanted to help this team win championships, and I’ve wanted to just be the best player that I possibly can be, every single day.”
A note on the TV broadcast
Though the game will kick off at around 8 p.m., FS1′s coverage will run from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. It’s likely to include coverage of the planned pregame and postgame ceremonies in Lloyd’s honor. FS1′s online streaming of the game will include a dedicated camera that tracks Lloyd for the entire game.
TUDN’s Spanish-language broadcast will run from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.