The U.S. women’s soccer team knows what’s at stake. A win Friday night against Mexico pushes them through to the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada and players like center midfielder and South Jersey native Carli Lloyd are going to do whatever it takes to make this happen.
“We’re solely focused on qualifying right now and there’s not much discussion around anything else but that,” said Lloyd. “There’s a lot of outside distractions that could get in our way, whether friends and family being around or other personal things, but to be honest everyone’s attitude has been great. We’re ready to wrap this thing up and once we qualify we’ll then begin our road to Canada.”
On the last big stage for Lloyd, the 2012 Olympics in London, she shined quite possibly the brightest for Team USA during the games. In the gold medal game against Japan, she notched two goals which proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory. Lloyd sees that time as a moment where she was able to separate herself as a player, scoring five goals throughout the games.
“I went through a lot during the games,” said Lloyd. “I was benched before the games and placed on the bubble. It was really hard to swallow at the time, but you have two choices in life – you can either suck it up, get back to work and prove all of your doubters wrong or you can crumble, cry and let yourself be sad and down about it. I chose the higher route and persevered through it. … I think I’ve finally reached a point where I can separate myself from everyone else on the field. I don’t play on this team to just be average and be a starter, I’m playing to be one of the best center midfielders in the world and that’s what I keep aspiring to do.”
In Monday’s 6-0 drubbing of Haiti in group play for the CONCACAF championship, Lloyd scored first for the American’s in the ninth minute which sparked the team’s offensive attack. She stated that she wanted to set the tone offensively in the absence of forward Alex Morgan, who will miss the rest of the tournament with a left ankle sprain, and she was able to do just that. She’s excited to play close to home Friday at PPL Park in Philadelphia, just a short drive from Delran, New Jersey where she grew up.
“The last time we played at PPL Park was before the 2012 Olympics,” said Lloyd. “It’s always great to come home and to play in front of friends and family. At the same time it can be somewhat of a distraction so I’m fully focused. I don’t know how many people are coming, but it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to putting on a good show out there and getting things done.”
Friday’s match against Mexico will air at 7:30 p.m. on FoxSports1.