Carli Lloyd cast one giant shadow for the USWNT. (Photo courtesy of Gotham FC)
CHICAGO – Carli Lloyd, one of the most impactful big-game players to feature for the U.S. women’s national team and one of the greatest players in the storied history of the USWNT program, Monday announced her retirement.
The 39-year-old midfielder is second-most capped player in world soccer history and owner of 128 international goals.
U.S. Soccer will soon announce four fall friendly matches for the USWNT – two in September and two in October – which will serve as Lloyd’s final games in a U.S. uniform. Lloyd will also play the remainder of the National Women’s Soccer League season with NJ/NY Gotham FC before also calling time on her professional club career, which has spanned 12 years and six teams.
“When I first started out with the National Team in 2005, my two main goals were to be the most complete soccer player I could be and to help the team win championships,” Lloyd said in a statement. “Every single day I stepped out onto the field, I played as if it was my last game. I never wanted to take anything for granted, especially knowing how hard it is to get to the top, but even harder to stay at the top for so long.”
Lloyd ends an historic international career that began in July of 2005 (a few days before she turned 23) when she debuted against the Ukraine in Portland, Oregon. She currently has 312 caps, which is second all-time in U.S. and world history behind only Kristine Lilly (354). Lloyd is one of just four international soccer players to play 300 or more times for her country.
“I would like to thank U.S. Soccer for helping to provide the opportunities and memories that will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful to have represented the crest and to be able to play for my country for the last 17 years,” Lloyd said. “I will continue to support and cheer this team on and continue to find ways to help grow the game and inspire the next generation.
“To end my career knowing my family was able to be by my side and share this last chapter with me could not have been any more special. We will all have a lot more time to spend together now, and especially with my husband Brian, who has been my rock and biggest support system for all these years. We are both looking forward to starting this next chapter of our lives without my everyday grind of training and playing, but I will most likely need to another outlet for my competitiveness! Perhaps that will be golf?”
Through her 312 caps to date, the USA has a record of 257-17-38, a winning percentage of 88%. She appeared for the USA in three different decades, at four World Cups and in four Olympic Games. She played in 25 World Cup matches and 22 Olympic matches, passing Kristine Lilly for the most games played for a USWNT player in world championship events. She has started 239 of her 312 caps, coming off the bench 73 times, and served as team captain in the latter part of her career.
Lloyd played for five different USWNT head coaches, scoring multiple goals under all of them. She earned 124 caps under Jill Ellis and 100 under Pia Sundhage.
“I am thankful for all five head coaches I have played for as they have all helped mold me into the player I have become over the years,” Lloyd said “We shared some amazing moments and also some challenging moments but all of it is what has made my journey so special and rewarding.”
“Carli Lloyd is a true legend,” head coach Vlatko Andonovski said “Her career was unique, and her success on the field is something all current and future National Team players should aspire to achieve. The way she approached her everyday training and career as a professional is truly impressive and I’ve been honored to coach her.”
Lloyd also played full international matches with more than 100 different teammates.
“We’ve basically been like family over the years,” she said. “The number of days we spend together on the road is more than the time we spend with our own families and significant others. We have been able to share some unbelievable moments together on and off the field, and we’ve also shared some heartbreaking moments. I’m just thankful for both the highs and lows because that’s what has helped us grow as people, players and as a team. I will always be thankful for the friendships I have formed along the way and the fact that I was able to play and compete with the best players in the world.”
Not only has her longevity been truly extraordinary but her production as well. Her 128 career goals are fourth all-time in U.S. history and tied for fifth all-time in world history, and her 64 career assists are sixth all-time for the USWNT. Although she has played mostly forward in the latter part of her career, she is the highest scoring midfielder in U.S. history. She has scored in 97 of her 312 caps.
“Through all the goals, the trophies, the medals and the championships won, what I am most proud of is that I’ve been able to stay unapologetically me,” Lloyd said. My journey has been hard, but I can honestly say I’ve stayed true to myself, to my teammates, my coaches, the media and the fans throughout my entire career and that is what I am most proud of. Everyone sees the moments of glory, but I have cherished the work behind the scenes and the adversity that I’ve had to overcome to get to those glorious moments.”
Lloyd may be remembered best for her remarkable hat-trick inside of just 17 minutes into the first half of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, a trio of scores that was capped by one of the most famous goals in soccer history, her strike from midfield to make the score 4-0 in the eventual 5-2 U.S. victory over Japan. She would win the Golden Ball as the best player in the tournament.
But it was Lloyd’s consistent production over the course of her career, her extreme dedication to the game and her relentless pursuit of self-improvement that perhaps best exemplifies her contribution to U.S. and world soccer history. She scored in all three Olympic medal games in which she played, bagging the game-winners in the gold medal games at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics while scoring twice – including the eventual game-winner — in the recent bronze medal game victory over Australia in Japan in her final Olympic match.
“We couldn’t have made the impact we have without our incredible fans who have supported the National Team and helped bring this program to unprecedented levels of popularity and cultural importance,” Lloyd said. “I’ve heard many players say they want to leave the game better than they found it, and I think that’s the case for sure. I know this team is in good hands on the field and that the fans will continue to support our team in the future.”
She ends her career as the USA’s all-time top scorer in the Olympic Games with 10 goals, surpassing Abby Wambach. She also scored 10 goals in World Cup play, third only to Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12).
Her ability to play at the highest levels into her late 30s has been unprecedented. Lloyd scored 36 international goals between the time she debuted (six days before her 23rd birthday) and her 30th birthday. Since turning 30, she has scored a remarkable 92 goals in 177 games over a span of a little more than nine years. No female player in the history of international soccer has scored more goals after her 30th birthday than Lloyd.
Her 177 international games played after the age of 30 are also most in U.S. history, two more than Christie Pearce Rampone.
Lloyd’s eight career hat tricks are tied with Mia Hamm for the most three-goal games in WNT history. Her most recent hat trick on Oct. 7, 2018, vs. Panama at World Cup Qualifying made her the oldest player to score a hat trick for the USWNT (36 years, 83 days). She broke Wambach’s record of 34 years, 186 days.
She is also the oldest player ever to lead the USA in scoring in a calendar year, having scored 16 goals in 2019 and ending the year at 37.5 years of age.
At the end of 2019, Lloyd passed 20,000 minutes played in a U.S. uniform, something achieved by just five other USWNT players – Lilly, Rampone, Julie Foudy, Hamm and Joy Fawcett. She currently has 21,293 minutes played for the USA, placing her fourth all-time.
Lloyd’s goal against Jamaica on June 13 of this year, scored after just 23 seconds, was the second fastest to start a match in WNT history and also made her the oldest player in USWNT history to score a goal. Lilly was previously the oldest player to score a goal for the USA at 38 years, 264 days. Lloyd was 38 years, 332 days old on June 13 against Jamaica.
“Carli has been the embodiment of the DNA of a USWNT player,” USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf said. “Her contributions have no doubt played a major part in the years of success of this team – inspiring both those who played with her and those who will wear the jersey in the future. She goes down as one of the best in the history of the program.”
Lloyd was twice named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (2008 and 2015) and was twice named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year (2015 & 2016). She and Hamm (2001 and 2002) are the only two Americans to win FIFA Women’s Player of the Year twice.
Carli Anne Lloyd was born and grew up in New Jersey, where she excelled as a youth player. She attended her home state’s Rutgers University, becoming a four-time All-Big East Selection and a three-time All-American. She began her international career in 2002 with the U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team, famously being left off a summer tournament roster before being recalled to that team and going on to help the U-21s win three Nordic Cup tournaments. Lloyd then trained with the senior side during 2004 Olympic Residency Camp before earning her first cap in 2005, thus launching one of the greatest international careers in women’s soccer history.