The U.S. women’s national soccer team was on a “Victory Tour” to celebrate their 2019 World Cup title when they visited Allianz Field that September, and Carli Lloyd displayed her unrelenting intensity during a 3-0 win in a friendly over Portugal.
The then-15-year USWNT veteran scored two goals to lead the way and was asked by the St. Paul Pioneer Press if she felt the need to raise the level with fellow attackers Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle out with injuries.
“I step up every game, regardless of who is out there, who’s playing, who’s not playing,” Lloyd said. “You should know that by now.”
Lloyd wasn’t going to give an inch then, but on Monday, the day before her final game, she was willing to open herself up.
“I’ve been iced-out Carli for so long, and people have always seen that,” she acknowledged on a video call with reporters.
Instead of her usual tunnel vision, Lloyd said she would let emotions in when she wore the U.S. shirt for the 316th and final time on Tuesday against South Korea. The game was too catered to her to not have it be a different feel.
A pregame ceremony with husband Brian Hollins, toting a big bouquet of flowers, her parents and other relatives were on the field for a jersey presentation commemorating her 316th appearance, the second most in USWNT history.
Lloyd didn’t score Tuesday, but there was plenty to celebrate. Before she kicked off the game, fans in the announced crowd of 18,115 chanted her name.
Lloyd’s best scoring opportunity came in the 16th minute, but she wasn’t able to get enough on the cross from Catarina Macario, and her redirection went wide. Her career ended with 134 goals, good for the most in USWNT history.
When Lloyd subbed out in the 65th minute, she took off her shoes and shared hugs with many teammates, including one with Rapinoe, whom Lloyd gave the captain’s armband. She removed her No. 10 jersey with “Lloyd” on the back to reveal a second No. 10 jersey with her husband’s last name on it.
On the edge of the sideline, she hugged her replacement in Morgan. Like it will as retirement sets in, the game continued with Rapinoe’s outside-of-the-boot pass finding Morgan for the third goal in a 6-0 win.
When Lloyd left the field, her face held emotion, if not tears. She said Monday she was going to soak it all in, and that goal appeared met.
Lloyd allowed herself more pleasures recently, including seeing the Rolling Stone at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. “I’ve often missed out on going to things for fun,” Lloyd said. “I’m not missing out on anything now.”
That includes reuniting with her family, which she was estranged from for 12 years until the pandemic. Lloyd had embraced a relationship with her personal coach James Galanis, and her father threw her out of the house in 2008.
“It’s special,” Lloyd said. “I’ve got my mom, dad, sister, my 4-year-old niece, my 4-week-old niece, my 2-year-old niece. … My brother is here, his wife, Brian, a friend of ours. Brian’s mom, sister, aunt. I’ve got some other family members and friends who are coming as well. So it’s around 28 people that are coming out.
That included another 18,000 in St. Paul on Tuesday.
“You could not have given me a better atmosphere,” Lloyd said in a postgame speech.