Carli Lloyd: “2019 is the true focus. I’ll take a loss in the SheBelieves and the Tournament of Nations in 2017 for another World Cup win.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
By Michael Lewis
BRONX, N.Y. — Don’t panic.
That’s essentially what Carli Lloyd said about the American women’s results this year.
Sure, the U.S. women’s national team stumbled in the SheBelieves Cup and in the recent Tournament of Nations, but that isn’t the true measure of the team, she said.
The Women’s World Cup and the Olympics are.
During a pre-game interview prior to the New York City FC-Red Bulls game at Yankee Stadium Sunday, the 35-year-old star assessed the team’s performance.
“One, it’s an off year, transitional year,” the two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year said. “There are some experimentations going on at the moment. But I ask you guys, if you remember 2014 or 2015 when we lost to France, tied England. Everyone just remembers the 2015 World Cup.”
The Americans captured the world championship in Vancouver that year with Lloyd putting on a virtuoso performance for the ages with a hat-trick in a 5-2 rout of Japan.
This year, however, the U.S. failed to win two tournaments it hosted.
In March, the Americans finished last in the SheBelieves Cup. They edged Germany, 1-0, was blanked by England, 1-0 and then was routed by France, 3-0.
Last week the U.S. completed the Tournament of Nations in second place to Australia, which defeated the American women, 1-0. The U.S. needed a late rally to defeat Brazil, 4-3, before blanking Japan in its final match, 3-0.
“As a player, you always want to be in peak form, you always want to be playing at your best,” Lloyd said. “But in order to continue to break barriers, you got to go a little bit backwards at times. You got to get the pieces back together again in order to jump up a couple of more levels. I think that’s where we’re at right now.”
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis is trying to establish greater depth in the squad, using young players and some veterans as well, Lloyd said.
“We’re all trying to do what we can,” Lloyd added. “As we get closer to 2018 (Women’s World Cup qualifying], we’ll start to hone in on everything. Obviously, it’s disappointing to not win all the time. But that’s the way women’s soccer [is] going. It’s a lot harder. I’m just going to continue to improve as a player, continue to learn.
“At the end of the day, 2019 is the true focus. I’ll take a loss in the SheBelieves and the Tournament of Nations in 2017 for another World Cup win.”