How Carli Lloyd found freedom to become USA's big-goal hunter

时间:2019-09-01 责任编辑:厉洚许 来源:云顶集团4008 点击:27 次

Carli Lloyd was in a familiar role in the quarter-final of this Women’s World Cup: that of game-winner and hero.

It may seem like she should be used to it by now. Her goals secured gold medals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She has struck in World Cups before and in Canada, where her team has had trouble finishing chances, it was her goal that took to the semi-finals, where they face Germany.

But Lloyd isn’t about to take it easy. , Lloyd had one important phone call to make – to her longtime personal trainer, James Galanis, to talk about how she performed and what she needs to do against the Germans on Tuesday.

“I’ll call him in a few,” Lloyd told reporters shortly after being named Fifa’s player of the match. “He’ll tell me, ‘Good job, blah blah blah – but that game’s over. Now, focus on the next one.’ ”

For Lloyd, a player who has built a reputation of grabbing games by the scruff of the neck, soccer is an endless act of improvement. There is no lower gear or pit stop. She has one mode: go.

The goal she scored on Friday was something she had rehearsed over and over again, she said. Her trainer had told her she needed to work on her headers. “Nothing is guaranteed and I don’t want to just be a participant in the World Cup,” Lloyd said. “I want to have a legacy. I want to have people remember me and let my play do the talking.”

“It’s a constant push trying to prove people wrong,” she added.

But notably, the night that Lloyd finally created a special moment in this World Cup was also the night that the USA coach, Jill Ellis, changed her role on the field.

Throughout this tournament and under much of Ellis’s tenure, Lloyd has been paired with Lauren Holiday to share duties in central midfield. Side by side, both would get forward and both would help defend.

Against China, though, Lloyd’s role was more limited, which gave her more freedom. Morgan Brian replaced Holiday, who was suspended, and covered defensive duties so Lloyd could roam in China’s half, on the prowl for goals.

“The coaches told me to hold a little more and let her do what she needs to do,” Brian said. “That way Carli feels like she can attack more, and that’s good because we needed that.”

The change worked for Lloyd. She looked more comfortable attacking, but it wasn’t anything new. Lloyd has been tasked with playing as a holding midfielder in the past, but she always looks her best when she can attack, when she can search for special moments and big goals.

That raises the question: when Holiday returns, what happens to Lloyd, and perhaps just as importantly, what happens to Brian? The US women haven’t had a dedicated defensive midfielder in the center of the pitch for a long time, and it doesn’t seem they will abruptly find one in the latter stages of a World Cup.

But it doesn’t seem that having Lloyd focused on both defending and attacking has yielded the best results from midfield. “How this tournament’s gone so far, I was a little bit restricted in the beginning games,” Lloyd said after the quarter-final. “I wasn’t able to express myself.”

Brian told reporters on Sunday she didn’t know if she would play against Germany, and she is unsure what her role going forward will be. Whether Brian returns or Lloyd is again asked to focus on the attack may hint at whether Ellis and her staff sees the potential for another big Lloyd moment.

There were times when nobody was looking to Lloyd as a hero. In the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics in London, she wasn’t playing well and a lack of confidence seemed at least partly to blame.

Then coach Pia Sundhage, who now coaches Sweden, didn’t have confidence in Lloyd either. She downgraded her from a starter to a substitute on the Olympic roster with Shannon Boxx taking her place. Lloyd would later admit she took Sundhage’s decision hard.

Whether it was luck or fate, Lloyd got her chance to prove Sundhage wrong. Boxx injured her hamstring just 17 minutes into the opening match of the Olympics. Suddenly, after being told she wasn’t good enough, Lloyd was being asked to step up.

She did that, scoring in that opening match against France and later again to clinch the gold medal over Japan, a rematch of the 2011 Women’s World Cup final.

“Carli Lloyd is a player sometimes smarter than I am,” Sundhage said from Canada earlier this month. “The message I tried to give her and her role, sometimes she thought about it and had some questions about it and she didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”

That doesn’t appear to be a problem under Ellis in this World Cup. Lloyd, asked to share central midfielder duties with Holiday, has put in the work and followed the game plan.

But Lloyd is also a player drawn to goal like a moth to a flame. On Friday before the media, the first thing she said made it clear: “I live for these moments.” Before the match, she had envisioned herself scoring.

Whether she has another chance to create a special moment may depend on Ellis and the players around her, but she will certainly try to find a way.

“I know that this is what I’m made of,” Lloyd said. “I have to take the team on my shoulders and grind it out.”