Carli Lloyd: “Everybody thinks that I’ve got to score a hat-trick every single time I step out onto the pitch. That doesn’t happen like that.” (Photo courtesy of Manchester City)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

BRONX, N.Y. — Carli Lloyd knows she isn’t getting any younger.

On the professional level, the U.S. international wants to continue her soccer career through the next cycle of two major women’s soccer tournaments in 2019 and 2020.

On the personal level, she also wants to start a family. She turned 35 last month and the Delran, N.J. native doesn’t have to be reminded that her biological clock is ticking.

“The plan is the next cycle,” said Lloyd, which means she hopes to play in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Lloyd would be 38 by the latter competition.

“For me, age is just a number,” she said prior to the New York City FC-Red Bulls game at Yankee Stadium Sunday.

“I think that you become smarter and more efficient with age. It’s all about evolving. Every part of my career and every phase of my career has been something different. Now it’s being more sophisticated. Players are out to steal the ball away from me. They’re out to critique me. I’m in the spotlight. Everybody thinks that I’ve got to score a hat-trick every single time I step out onto the pitch. That doesn’t happen like that. But I’ll take hat-tricks in perfect moments while I’m continuously going through this journey trying to get better and to improve and help my team.”

Lloyd’s legacy in the game already is assured. The two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the year scored the game-winning goal in consecutive Olympic gold-medal matches (2008 and 2012) and connected on that fabulous first-half hat-trick in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

If anything has defined Lloyd’s career, particularly over the past decade, it has been the proper preparation, whether it is training or nutrition.

“The plan it is to keep going,” said Lloyd, who played this spring with the Manchester City womens team in England, whose organization owns NYCFC. “I feel I’m the fittest I’ve ever been. I’ve taken great pride of taking care of my body on and off the field my entire career. My touches, just how I’m playing, has been good. It’s about kind of putting all the pieces together. For me it’s about peaking at the right moment. We’ll see. At the club level, I’m not sure.”

As much as she excels on the field and as much as she loves the game, Lloyd is fighting father time because she wants to become a mother. Lloyd married Brian Hollins last Nov. 4 and she wants to start a family.

“As we all know, women have to have kids before things start to whatever …,” she said as her voice tailed off. “I am on a timeline to have kids. If New York City FC has a women’s team, maybe I close up my career here. We’ll see what happens.”