Carli Lloyd is not accepting her new role. Not at all.
Lloyd was the star of the 2015 Women’s World Cup four years ago in Canada, scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes of the final to help the U.S. national team win its third World Cup title.
The hat trick earned Lloyd the nickname “Captain America” and made her one of women’s soccer most recognizable athletes. She was voted FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, NFL quarterback Marcus Mariota teed up a football for her in a Nike commercial and she wrote a successful book.
Now 36, Lloyd is a role player, likely a second-half substitute in most matches. She won’t start Sunday against Chile as the U.S. plays its second Group F match.
“If I was satisfied, I really shouldn’t be here. That’s just not who I am as a person or a player,” she said. “I know that if called upon and needing to play 90 minutes, I can do it. There’s nothing there that’s holding me back except for the coach’s decision.”
That’s not to say that Lloyd is a malcontent. Quite the opposite.
Photo: Elaine Thompson / Associated Press 2015
“I haven’t sat here and pouted around and been a horrible teammate,” she said. “I’ve showed up every single day at training and been the hardest working player I could possibly be, and been respectful of that decision. When my chances have come I’ve tried to seize those and take those opportunities.”
Lloyd finds herself in much the same position that Abby Wambach was in Canada. Heading to a record 184 international goals, Wambach came off the bench during the 2015 World Cup for the first time since 2003.
Coach Jill Ellis said she loves Lloyd’s attitude.
“I’ve said this, whether Carli comes off the bench or starts the game, she is a game-changer. What I know is that Carli will always put the team first,” Ellis said.
Lloyd was benched before the 2012 London Olympics by then-coach Pia Sundhage, who liked the combination of Shannon Boxx and Lauren Holiday. The demotion didn’t last long, however, because Boxx was injured in the opener.
Lloyd went on to score both goals in the gold-medal match against Japan at Wembley Stadium. She became the only player to score winning goals in consecutive Olympic finals: At the Beijing Games in 2008, she scored in overtime for a 1-0 victory against Brazil.
In Tuesday’s opening 13-0 rout of Thailand, Lloyd entered in the 57th minute and scored in stoppage time. She became the oldest American woman to score at a World Cup and joined Germany’s Birgit Prinz as the only players to score in five straight World Cup games.
“I just want to do anything I can to help the team, and that hasn’t really changed from when I first got to the team in 2005,” she said. “I’m the same player, trucking along, just wanting to be better and better every single day.”
Saturday’s games: In Group E in Grenoble, France, Jessie Fleming and Nichelle Prince each had second-half goals and Canada advanced to the knockout round with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand. Fleming, who made her debut with the senior national team at 15, plays for UCLA. The Canadians had never advanced from the group stage when playing outside of North America. … Also in Group E, The Netherlands earned a spot in the second round with a 3-1 win over Cameroon in Valenciennes, France. Vivianne Miedema scored a goal in each half, and Dominique Bloodworth also scored for the Netherlands. Gabrielle Onguéné got Cameroon’s goal in the 43rd. Netherlands meets Canada in a match on Thursday to decide first place — and a theoretically easier road in the knockout stage — in the group.