Carli Lloyd Has Sights Set on 2020 Olympics, Then Maybe the NFL

All Carli Lloyd is asking for is a fair shot.

At 37 years old, the United States Women’s National Team forward said she feels the best she’s ever felt physically and still has a lot left to contribute.

Unfortunately, Lloyd wasn’t able to put her best foot forward at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, being relegated to a reserve role. She made just one start—scoring twice in the 3-0 win against Chile in the group stage—with six substitute appearances (four in the 80th minute or later) while scoring three times as the USWNT won its second consecutive World Cup.

While Lloyd became a household name after scoring three goals in the 5-2 win against Japan in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, her role with the national team has fluctuated since.

Now, her top priority is to impress the new USWNT coach, who has huge shoes to fill replacing Jill Ellis, who stepped down in early October, as the U.S. has its sights set on gold at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

“These last couple of years have been pretty tough for me; I’m not going to hide anything there,” said Lloyd, a two-time World Cup winner who has 113 goals at 52 assists in 281 caps for the USWNT. “In my opinion I think I deserved a shot to start and unfortunately that wasn’t my decision. I had to keep doing whatever I could control which was my work ethic and showing up, and any chance I got I had to seize it and I did. There was nothing left for me to do.

“Did it make me dig a little bit deeper and get fired up a little bit more? Yeah, but I think I’ve always been wired to want to continue to get better, so I don’t think that changed me per se. I’m always going to want to push on and be better.”

While she had been overshadowed by Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan at the World Cup, Lloyd has continued to be ever-present off it since her life was turned upside down after the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Lloyd was the joint top scorer with six goals, while being named the tournament’s best player.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist (2008, 2012) skyrocketed to fame after winning her first World Cup, scoring three goals in less than 15 minutes against Japan. Lloyd was featured in commercials with Nike, Heineken, United Airlines and Xfinity, while signing endorsement deals or partnerships with Visa, Lifeway, Whole Foods, Krave Jerky, Beats by Dre, Kind and NJM Insurance.

The off-field opportunities certainly haven’t cooled off as Lloyd recently walked in the Dick’s Sporting Goods fashion show in New York City, trading in her uniform and cleats for fall/winter Nike looks.

“I think I’ve kind of found the balance of things a little bit more,” she said. “I think I’m a little bit more prepared. I’m really busy now, but 2015 kind of prepared me for this.”

Always one to speak her mind, Lloyd let her legs do the talking over the summer when her 55-yard field goal at Philadelphia Eagles practice went viral. Rumors swirled about Lloyd considering attempting to become the first woman to play in the National Football League.

While she hasn’t ignored the potential opportunity, her top priority remains soccer. Lloyd said she still has “a couple of years” of soccer left in her with a goal of wearing red, white and blue next summer in Tokyo.

As for after that? Maybe a different kind of football.

“I’ve got the mental toughness to be able to (kick in the NFL),” she said. “I’ve competed at the highest stage, I’ve been in high-pressure situations, so I get that. I’ve got to put some pads on, put a helmet on, do the two-step, maybe get some big men to rush me and we’ll take it from there.

“If I can do that, then I’m definitely on my way to potentially entertaining it, but first and foremost soccer.”

NOTE: First appeared on Forbes SportsMoney

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