Carli Lloyd says goodbye to the fans before she leaves the pitch. (Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Fourth official Melissa Borjas was the first person to tell the world that a legendary career was about to end.

In the 64th minute Wednesday night, Borjas held an electronic board over her head with two simple numbers:

No 13 was in green and No 10 was in red, meaning that Alex Morgan was about to replace Carli Lloyd in the U.S. women’s national team lineup in the 6-0 victory over the Korea Republic at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minn.

An emotional Lloyd looked towards the sideline and knew it was over.

She took off her shin guards, then her soccer boots. As she walked off the field, she was hugged by her teammates. As the fans continued their cheering, the Delran, N.J. native held hold arms above her head, her shoes in her right hand.

Then Lloyd did one more thing. She took off her jersey to reveal another USA shirt, not with her name, but with Hollins and No. 10, honoring her husband Brian.

Lloyd did not score in her final game, but it didn’t matter as she left USWNT fans with memories to last a lifetime and a half.

The match culminated a remarkable 17-year career for Lloyd, who forged her reputation with quality and quantity. Lloyd finished with 134 goals in 316 international appearances, the second most by a player in the world.

Moreover, she was a money player when it counted, scoring the winning goal in back-to-back Olympic gold medal matches and that incredible, 13-minute hat-trick in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

Afterwards, Lloyd addressed the crowd.

“Minnesota you could not have given me a better atmosphere for one last game that I played tonight,” she said. “Thank you to everybody who came out. This is an unbelievable stadium. Fantastic team performance tonight. Great goals. I was really happy that we ended on a win so thank you to my teammates for that one.

“It’s been an emotional few days. It’s been an emotional few months. It’s been a long career. And I don’t know that there’s really much that needs to be said. But I just want to take a few minutes to thank a lot of people. I want to thank all of you fans for the support. It really means the world to me, everybody. The doubters the critics, everybody, I love you all. You’ve pushed me to greater and greater heights throughout my career and I’m extremely thankful for that.

“To my amazing teammates and former teammates I’ve had the privilege to play with some unbelievable players throughout my career. I’ve had the privilege to play against unbelievable opponents as well. But I think the biggest thing that I’m taking away from this journey is the memories is the journey with every single one of you. I played together with many of you for a lot longer than others. But every small part, you all have played a huge role in my career and I can’t thank you enough for the memories. That is what I’m going to take away most throughout this career. Coaching Staff thank you I know it was a little bit of a joke that I’ve outlasted every national team coach that I’ve played for except for blackout.”

Lloyd went on to thank the USWNT’s staff before completing her speech.

“It has been an honor,” she said. “I have been absolutely grateful for every opportunity that I’ve stepped out on this field. And I hope that you know that I gave it everything I had for every single one of you. I will never forget this moment I will never forget the city, Minnesota the stadium the atmosphere that people thank you to everybody who has played a role in my journey. I can’t thank you enough. And that is it. I am signing off. You will not see me on the field. But you best believe that I will be around helping this game grow.”

Then, quite appropriately, when she was finished, Lloyd dropped the mic.

She then went on a final victory lap around the stadium waving to her fans one last time.

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski lauded Lloyd, who, during his address to the crowd, joked how she had outlasted five coaches, except for the present one.

“It’s an emotional moment and it’s been emotional camp for us,” he said. “Lots of ceremonies, lots of talks, lots of videos. It’s almost like it was a wake up moment for everyone because we know Carli’s a legend. Everybody knows she’s a legend. We almost forgot everything that she has done. I mean, it’s 17 years. You cannot remember everything. So thanks to our communication staff who created the different videos. Thanks to some of the more experienced players who shared some memories and some moments. We as staff learn a lot about Carli, a lot more and some of the younger players as well. We were wowed by all those stories and stories and experiences. What a legend I mean, such a successful career and she’s earned every bit of it.”

During pregame ceremonies, Lloyd was honored by friends, family and fans.

She was given a framed USA uniform that said:

Lloyd

316

caps

While her family and husband Brian – they all wore Lloyd’s famed No. 10 jersey – looked on, the 39-year-old midfielder also was given a bouquet from U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone and USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf.

Not surprisingly, Lloyd’s teammates tried to find the veteran striker to give her a goal. Early on, those tactics did not work at all, as Korea flooded the middle and kept the ball away from her.

Lindsey Horan lifted the the USA into the lead in the ninth minute. Mallory Pugh sent a pass from the right flank that the midfielder one-timed into the net.

Horan’s goal opened up the Korea backline just a bit as the USWNT dominated the opening half in possession and chances.

Lloyd fired a shot wide right after a long pass by Katrina Macario in the 16th minute and forced goalkeeper Jungmi KIM to make a diving save to her left to set up a corner kick in the 27th minute.

In the 18th minute, Lloyd turned playmaker with a through ball to Pugh that Kim saved for a corner kick.

The Americans were helped by another deflection to double their lead right before the end of the half. Macario floated in a corner to the near post that Andi Sullivan headed to the net. The ball deflected off a Korean player for an own goal in the 45th minute.

At the other end of the field, goalkeeper Jane Campbell hardly touched the ball.

Pugh set up Lloyd in the 54th minute. She raced down the left flank and drilled a cross to Lloyd, who headed it right to Kim.

Only minutes after she replaced Lloyd, Morgan scored in the 69th minute. Then the USWNT went on a tear in the final seven minutes as Megan Rapinoe (85th minute), Rose Lavelle (89th minute) and Lynn Williams (two minutes into stoppage time) found the net.