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USWNT Legend Carli Lloyd Announces Retirement

Carli Lloyd has recently announced that she will be retiring from football at the end of the season. She will play the remainder of the National Women’s Soccer League 2021 season with NJ/NY Gotham FC before calling time on her professional club career, which has spanned 12 years and six teams. US Soccer has announced four friendly matches for the women’s national team – two in September and two in October – which will serve as Lloyd’s final games for the team.

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.

Lloyd started kicking a soccer ball at the age of five and resisted her parents’ wish that she embrace ballet or another form of dance. Under the tutelage of her high-school coach, Lloyd developed her all-around ability as a midfield playmaker. She won awards on the Scarlet Knights at Rutgers University, where she was voted to the All-Big East First Team all four years (a Rutgers record). She graduated (2006) as the Scarlet Knights’ all-time leader in shots, points (117), and goals (50).

While she was still a student, Lloyd played in the professional United Soccer League’s development league. She signed in 2008 with the Women’s Professional Soccer league’s Chicago Red Stars but left after one season to join Sky Blue FC in New Jersey. Following two seasons with the Atlanta Beat, Lloyd in 2013 started for the Western New York Flash in the newly created National Women’s Soccer League. She was traded to the Houston Dash in 2014. Four years later Lloyd returned to Sky Blue FC (later renamed NJ/NY Gotham FC). She also had a loan spell at Manchester City Women in the 2016-17 season which is when she won the 2016-17 FA Cup and finished 2nd in the FA WSL Spring Series.

Though she appeared as a central midfield player, her predatory instincts as a striker were often used either in a double-spearhead role or in the “hole” behind the farthest forward in front of midfield.

Lloyd made her mark for the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) Under-21 squad with four straight Nordic Cup titles (2002–05) prior to making her debut for the full USWNT against Ukraine on July 10, 2005. Her first international goal came against Taiwan the following year. She played in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the United States finished third, and four years later the USWNT captured the silver medal after narrowly losing to Japan. At the 2015 World Cup tournament, Lloyd crowned a solid performance as team captain with a positive display of accuracy in the final match, also against Japan, in which she scored a hat trick (three goals) in the first 16 minutes to pave the way for the United States to defeat the defending champions 5–2. She was rewarded with the Golden Ball as the tournament’s standout player and received the Silver Shoe for having tied the leading scorer with six goals and one assist. In 2019 she competed in her fourth World Cup, and the USWNT easily won the tournament.

Club Career

While she was still in high school, Lloyd played for W-League teams, Central Jersey Splash in 1999, New Banshees Power in 2000, and South Jersey Banshees in 2001. In 2004 she played for the New Jersey Wildcats with teammates Kelly Smith, Manya Makoski, Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly, she made only one appearance for the club.

She was traded to Sky Blue FC in January 2018 along with Janine Beckie by Houston Dash in a three way trade with Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue. Lloyd scored four goals in 18 appearances in 2018, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Orlando Pride which was Sky Blue’s only goal and win of the 2018 season. She was named in the 2018 NWSL second XI.

International Career

Lloyd represented the U.S. at the U21s level before making the jump to the senior squad at 23. She played at the Nordic Cup four times winning consecutive titles from 2002-2005 in Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Sweden respectively. During the first round of the 2003 Nordic Cup, she assisted the winning goal against Denmark. In the 2004 Nordic Cup, she started every match, scored two goals and had one assist. In the 2005 Nordic Cup, she scored three goals including one during the championship match against Norway.

Lloyd made her first senior debut on the 10th July 2005 against Ukraine. She scored her first international goal against Taiwan on the 1st October 2006. Won the 2006 Four Nations Tournament which was the third cup she’d won. She got her first two starts of her international career at the 2006 Algarve Cup, starting the group match against Denmark and the final against Germany.

During her 312 caps, the USWNT has an overall record of 257-17-38, a winning percentage of 88%. She appeared for the USA in three different decades, played in four World Cups and in four Olympic Games. She has played in 25 World Cup matches and 22 Olympics matches, passing Kristine Lilly for the most matches played for a USWNT player in the world championship events. Lloyd 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. She has also played under five different USWNT head coaches, scoring multiple goals under all of them, she earned 124 caps under Jill Ellis and 100 caps under Pia Sundhage. Lloyd has also played full international matches with more than 100 different teammates.

Not only has her length of service been truly extraordinary but her production as well. Her 128 career goals are fourth all-time in U.S. history and she is tied for fifth all-time in world history, her 64 career assists are sixth all-time for the USWNT. Even though she has played mostly as a 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.

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 won 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.

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 an incredible 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 the 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 that was only 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.

Lloyd was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2008 and 2015 and was twice named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016. She and Hamm (2001 & 2002) are the only two Americans to win FIFA Women’s Player of the Year twice.

In 2019 Lloyd joined several of her USWNT teammates in a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Citing gender discrimination, the team sought pay equal to that of the U.S. men’s soccer team.

Lloyd earned her 300th cap on the 10th April 2021 in a friendly match against Sweden to become the third player to achieve that after Kristine Lilly and Christie Pearce.

Honours and Awards


  • Algarve Cup Most Valuable Player: 2007

  • U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year: 2008

  • FIFA World player of the year shortlist: 2012, 2015 & 2016

  • FIFA Puskas Award Nominee: 2015

  • NWSL Player of the Week: July 2013 & July 2014

  • NWSL Player of the Month: July 2015

  • NWSL Second XI: 2014, 2015 & 2016

  • CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year: 2015

  • CONCACAF Goal of the Year: 2015

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball: 2015

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Silver Boot: 2015

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup All Star Team: 2015

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Dream Team: 2015

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Goal of the Tournament: 2015

  • Women’s Sport Foundation Sportswomen of the Year Team Sport Award: 2015

  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Nominee: 2015

  • IFFHS World’s Best Woman Playmaker: 2015

  • FIFA World’s Player of the Year: 2015

  • FIFPRO FIFA FIFPRO World XI: 2015 & 2016

  • Nominee for 2016 ESPY Award for Best Championship Performance

  • The Best FIFA Women’s Player: 2016

  • Inductee into New Jersey Hall of Fame: 2017

  • IFFHS CONCACAF Best Woman Player of the Decade: 2011-2020

  • IFFHS World’s Woman Team of the Decade: 2011-2020

  • IFFHS CONCACAF Women’s Team of the Decade: 2011-2020

Team Honours

United States Women’s National Team

  • Algarve Cup: 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013 & 2015

  • CONCACAF Women’s Championship: 2014 & 2018

  • CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament: 2008, 2012, 2016 & 2020

  • Olympic Gold Medal: 2008 & 2012

  • Olympic Bronze Medal: 2021

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup: 2015 & 2010

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup Runners-up: 2011

  • SheBelieves Cup - 2016, 2018, 2020 & 2021

  • Tournament of Nations: 2018

Manchester City Women

  • FA Women’s Cup 2016-17

Carli Lloyd has had a remarkable career and will always be known as a legend to USWNT fans and many fans across the world. She has scored some amazing goals including her goal from the halfway line against Japan in the 2015 World Cup. She has been an inspiration and role model to a lot of young fans who have dreams of playing for the national team one day and she will continue to inspire the next generation after she retires. We would like to wish Carli all the best for the future and can’t wait to see what she does after her retirement.

By Phillipa Kipling

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