Carli Lloyd's five greatest U.S. games

Carli Lloyd announced on Monday that she will be retiring at the end of the year at the age of 39. She played her first game for the USA in 2005, six days before her 23rd brithday.

Lloyd has scored the winning or deciding goal, many of them golazos, in almost all the defining games for the national team since then.

Here are her five greatest U.S. games.

2008. USA 1 Brazil 0 (Olympic gold-medal game).

The USA's third gold medal in women's soccer will be remembered for Hope Solo's extraordinary game in goal, but the game-winner came from Lloyd, Solo's close friend who had stuck with the keeper after what Lloyd described the "calculated crusade to crush her" following her criticism of Briana Scurry the year before after the USA's 4-0 loss to Brazil in the Women's World Cup semifinals in China.

Lloyd scored the gold-medal game's lone goal in the 96th minute. She calls it a "pretty cool goal," which is quite an understatement. The best part of the play is not her dipping shot that beat the Brazilian keeper Barbara to the far post but her back-heel she played to Amy Rodriguez on their one-two and her touch to free herself of her defender on the edge of the penalty area.

2012. USA 2 Japan 1 (Olympic gold-medal game).

The USA won its fourth gold medal -- and third in a row -- in a rematch of the 2011 Women's World Cup final Japan won on penalty kicks.

Lloyd was one of three Americans to miss their shots in the shootout, but she was on target for both the goals in the rematch at Wembley Stadium.

“We weren’t going home with anything but gold,” said Lloyd, who had lost her starting job in Pia Sundhage's starting lineup but regained it after Shannon Boxx was injured 17 minutes into the opening game of the tournament against France.

Lloyd's first goal came on a darting header in the first half, the second on a shot from 20 yards after she outpaced her marker in the second half.

“She proved that I was wrong before the Olympics,” said Sundhage. “I am really happy that she is more clever than I am.”

2015. USA 1 China 0 (Women's World Cup quarterfinals).

The USA's world championship in Canada did not come easily. At least the goals didn't. It wasn't until the quarterfinals that the U.S. attack started to click.

With Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday suspended for yellow card accumulation and Abby Wambach dropped from the starting lineup, Lloyd was pushed into a more attacking role in midfield and scored when she soared over the shoulders of Zhao Rong and met Julie Ertz's cross with a header than bounced off the turf at Ottawa's Lansdowne Stadium and beat keeper Wang Fei.

Lloyd later criticized U.S. coach Jill Ellis for taking her out of the starting lineup ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, but she credited Ellis and her staff for how the USA changed things up in the quarterfinals.

“When we defend like we did, pressing high, I think it just instinctually gives people the confidence to attack,” Lloyd said. “Jill and the coaching staff said, ‘We want players to take players one-on-one, get to the end line and get forwards involved.’ Everyone just played freely out there.”

2015. USA 5 Japan 2 (Women's World Cup final).

The game Americans will remember Lloyd for is the 2015 Women's World Cup final in Vancouver.

A U.S. record television audience for a soccer game on English-language television -- 25.4 million viewers on Fox -- watched the USA jump out to a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes with three of the goals coming from Lloyd.

Lloyd's third goal came when she won the ball in the U.S. half, spotted Japanese keeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line and scored with a shot from just inside the Japanese half, a distance of more than 50 yards.

"There's not many times I've tried to hit a ball from midfield at goal," Lloyd said, "and I don't' think I could have struck it any [more perfectly]. It just unleashed off my foot."

2021. USA 4 Australia 3 (Olympic bronze-medal game).

Lloyd had the best chance in the 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals when she came off the bench and hit the crossbar in the 86th minute, so she returned to the starting lineup against Australia in the bronze-medal game.

Megan Rapinoe scored the first two goals for the USA, but Lloyd extended the lead to 4-1 with a pair of goals on either side of halftime. They proved to be the difference when the Matildas came back to score two goals to make the final score 4-3.

“Obviously we were striving for gold," said Lloyd afterwards. "But as I’ve told the group, when you get third place at a World Cup, you get a little chintzy medal from FIFA. This isn’t chintzy. It’s just a different color. But not everybody gets them, and it’s truly special, and we had to dig really deep to get it today.”

8 comments about "Carli Lloyd's five greatest U.S. games".
  1. Scott Chaney, August 17, 2021 at 8:35 a.m.

    Carli, thank you for all your hard work. And THANK YOU for NOT taking a knee and disgracing your country. You will be missed. Your teammates, not so much. Hard to win a gold medal when your knees are worn out from kneeling. 

  2. frank schoon, August 17, 2021 at 9:13 a.m.

    I hope next you will turn your efforts into coaching the younger ones around 13-14years...Good Luck....

  3. Kevin Leahy, August 17, 2021 at 12:15 p.m.

     I wonder how celebrated she would be if she were a man. Thanks for the thrills!

  4. Kent James, August 17, 2021 at 1:26 p.m.

    Great career, some unbelievable goals, still doing it at 39.  Very impressive.

  5. Steve Storlie, August 17, 2021 at 2:10 p.m.

    Amazing Player and Leader! Mad respect for leaving with Dignity , letting others, have the chance
    you did. Tell Megan to follow your lead!

    Huge Fan...Please get into Coaching, Grow the Game

  6. Bob Ashpole, August 17, 2021 at 2:46 p.m.

    I have never seen another player, male or female, dominate a World Cup match to the extent that Carli dominated that 2015 World Cup final match. Hope Solo's performance in that same match comes close. I had forgotten how good Solo was.

  7. Wooden Ships replied, August 18, 2021 at 9:31 a.m.

    That was a thrill to watch her in that game and I can't think of an equally dominating performance either. I loved watching her play, at forward and mid. Hope, inarguably probably, was the best woman's Keeper of all time (those voters that are butt hurt need to get over themselves and get her in the Hall). Another factor with an imposing Keeper is that the strikers/forwards and mids, most try to be perfect with their finish which leads to wide shots. Not a stat one can point to, but more goals would have resulted had she not been the one in goal. 

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, August 20, 2021 at 3:49 a.m.

    WS, could not agree more. What most fans don't think about is that USSF's ban on Hope Solo was a completely political move to deflect the public disappointment in the Olympic performance. The ban cost USSF nothing, because of Hope's bad shoulder. (Note for the readers, keepers can't play well with bad knees or shoulders.) On the other hand, it cost Hope a lot. Hope was denied the chance to retire from international play with respect. Very petty of USSF.

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