Veteran Lloyd happy with reduced role
As one of the most decorated stars in United States soccer history, Carli Lloyd isn't a stranger to the international stage.
But those who have witnessed her heroics in past Olympics and World Cups will see the 36-year-old in a bit of a different role in France this summer.
Lloyd has had a history of success as a midfielder with her club teams and for the US, but as she’s got older, she has seen her duties evolve.
"I’ve played center midfield alongside Shannon Boxx for so many years where one of us goes forward and one holds and vice versa. I’ve played holding mid in the 2012 Olympics, I’ve played left mid, I’ve played right mid, I’ve played attacking mid," Lloyd told Omnisport.
But now, she’s primarily a striker who comes off the bench.
Lloyd explained that she reached a point in her career where she had to step back from being an explosive playmaker to becoming more positionally aware. She has also worked on increasing her knowledge of the game, knowing that will make a greater impact and help inspire the younger players on the team.
"My role’s evolved and changed over time and now I’m closer up to the goal and obviously I want to contribute any way that I can," Lloyd said. "With age you’ve got to change some things and I still feel as fit as I’ve ever felt, explosive as I’ve ever felt. But these last couple of years I’ve been trying to train my brain in a different way.
"I’m not the Carli Lloyd from five years ago that’s just going to get the ball and start running toward the goal. I’ve got to be able to play smarter with my brain and so these past couple of years for me personally has been me kind of studying the game and trying to evolve. So with that has been this thing where I have to take a couple of steps backward to go five steps forward."
Lloyd, who is preparing to embark on her fourth World Cup, acknowledged it’s been a tough couple of years as she made the transition, but explained "in the end it’s always worth it".
"If you invest that time, day in and day out, I'm really trying to be a sponge and take in information and try to evolve my game to where I’m kind of an unpredictable player and it’s now starting to click for me," she said. "I’ve got to keep plugging along and do what I can to help the team."
She added: "All the training and all the hours that I’ve clocked is paying off but this isn’t the end. I’ve got to keep climbing."
Lloyd is doing so with the support and admiration of her team-mates, who sound impressed - if not necessarily surprised - at how well she has taken to the change.
"She’s just Carli - she can do it. I think that just shows her quality," US forward Mallory Pugh told Omnisport.
"You don’t really see that a lot from players who can play the 10 role so well and then can also play the nine role so well. Credit to her that she’s made the transition perfectly. Just having her as a leader out there and just kind of following is just super inspiring."
Reflecting on her time with the national team and looking ahead to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Lloyd said it’s been "an unbelievable journey" and one that she’s honoured to be a part of as the Americans look to make history with another World Cup win.
"This team has done amazingly well over the years and to be a part of this team for so long is truly an honour and I never take any day for granted, that’s for sure," Lloyd said.
"We’re continuously getting better and better and that’s all we want to see so we can keep making it better and better for future generations."