Following in the footsteps of legends like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd scored the two biggest goals of her career. In what was the game of her life, the 30 year old from New Jersey logged a goal in each half, as the US climbed to a 2-0 lead over Japan at Wembley Stadium. Despite a late goal by Japan, the US would clinch the gold medal at the 2012 London Summer Games.
This would not mark the first time that Lloyd would score big goals in Summer Games play. At the 2008 Beijing Games, she scored the game winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Japan. She would notch the gold medal winning goal in overtime versus Brazil. She would be named the US Women’s Soccer Player of the Year for 2008. While playing in the shadows of more popular players such as Alex Morgan and Hope Solo, she has quietly built a world class career that would be the envy of players worldwide.
With the tension of having lost the 2011 World Cup to Japan, Lloyd and her teammates faced tremendous pressure. The eighth minute of the 2012 Gold Medal match resulted in Lloyd’s first goal, a header off a pass from Alex Morgan that was meant for Abby Wambach. Before halftime, Lloyd nearly scored again but the Japanese goalkeeper Fukumoto made an impressive save to deny Lloyd. With nine minutes gone in the second half, Lloyd ran approximately 30 yards before launching a shot that resulted in the second score of the game.
Despite strong performances by Japanese players Saki Kumagai, Yuki Ogimi and Aya Miyama, a repeat of their championship performance at the 2011 FIFA World Cup was not meant to be. For Lloyd, the road to victory at London 2012 was marked by other goals.
At the Summer Games Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lloyd made her presence felt. In a Group B Match versus Mexico, the US bested them by a 4-0 tally, marked by Lloyd’s first career hat trick. In addition, she was named player of the match. For Lloyd, the honours would not end there. With a 3-0 defeat of Costa Rica in the semi-final of the Qualifying Tournament, Lloyd was named player of the match once more. She would finish with six goals (tied for the team lead) and three helpers, as the US went undefeated.
For Lloyd, her time in the spotlight was long overdue. The former Rutgers Scarlet Knights soccer star (named 2001 Big East Rookie of the Year), has had 141 caps with 40 goals with the US women’s team. The year 2007 marked the dawn of Lloyd’s presence as a prime time player. She was the top scorer and most valuable player at the 2007 Algarve Cup. In addition, she played in the 2007 FIFA World Cup, a first for her. In starting three first round games, she would finish the World Cup third on the team in scoring, with nine tallies and three assists.
She competed for the Chicago Red Stars in the first season of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009. Despite making 14 starts, she scored two goals and recorded an assist. At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup she scored her first ever goal in World Cup play during a 3-0 win versus Colombia. Lloyd also left her mark in one of the most dramatic and exciting World Cup games ever played. After fighting back from a 2-1 deficit to force overtime against Brazil, Lloyd had a penalty kick against the Brazilians, which would help the US advance to the semifinals. A harbinger of things to come, Lloyd would deliver the goods once again in a golden day of retribution.