Hardly bench material! USWNT record-breaker Lloyd supplies perfect answer to back up her words

The veteran attacker has made it clear she does not like being a substitute, and she showed she still has got plenty to give against Chile on Sunday

Carli Lloyd has made it very clear that she does not like being a substitute.

Lloyd, a two-time world player of the year, has been forced to accept a bench role with the U.S. women’s national team as her career reaches its twilight phase.

Many players in Lloyd’s position would spout platitudes about being happy to do whatever is best for the team, but that is not who Lloyd is.

“If I was satisfied with that, I really shouldn’t be here,” Lloyd said on Friday. “There’s honestly nothing there that’s holding me back except for the coach’s decision.”

On Sunday, Lloyd provided the perfect performance to back her words up.

Starting as part of a heavily rotated squad in the USWNT’s second World Cup game, Lloyd came out with a fierce determination to score against Chile, and it did not take her long to do so, as she netted the first goal of the game with a fantastic half-volley from the top of the box.

Lloyd was not done though, as later in the first half she got on the end of Tierna Davidson’s driven corner kick to head home her second of the night and her team’s third.

In the second half, Lloyd showed her versatility by moving from forward back to midfield, where she played for most of her career. She nearly sealed a perfect performance with a hat-trick, but blazed a penalty wide in the game’s latter stages.

The U.S. still booked a spot in the round of 16 with a comfortable 3-0 win that would have been a much higher margin of victory were it not for the heroics of Christiane Endler in the Chilean goal.

After the game on Sunday, Lloyd restated the self-belief that has taken her far in her career.

“This is the best version of me that I’ve ever been playing in my career,” Lloyd said. “Whether you put me up top, whether you put me in the midfield, i can do it.”

Lloyd would still be starting for most teams at the World Cup, but she has been the victim of an excessively talented U.S. roster, especially in attack.

But as she approaches her 37th birthday, Lloyd produced a record-setting performance on Sunday to once again show that she has got more than a little left in the tank.

Lloyd has had to change her game over the past two years, making the transition from midfield to forward, but her intense training regiment has helped make her position change go relatively smooth.

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“The preperation has been there, this doesn’t just magically come out of a hat and I’m going to score a couple goals here and there,” Lloyd said.

“These last four years I’ve reinvented my whole game, I’ve become really fit, age isn’t a factor, my ability isn’t a factor.”

Her teammates have also been impressed with the work she’s put in off the field.

“Carli is a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal teammate and seeing her journey from the last World Cup and the Olympics until now is really actually inspiring for me,” Christen Press said. 

“Just her work ethic day in and day out and her appetite for this big moment, I think she’s really grown into it and she’s playing as good as I’ve ever seen her now.”

Lloyd’s goals meant she set a record by becoming the first player to score in her sixth consecutive World Cup match, while she also became the oldest player in World Cup history to score two goals in a game.

With 10 goals, Lloyd now only trails Michelle Akers (12) and Abby Wambach (14) for most career World Cup goals for the USWNT.

Lloyd, who scored a hat trick in the 2015 World Cup final, stepped her game up as the World Cup approached, scoring five goals in her team’s final five games leading up to the tournament in France.

The veteran attacker then scored the 13th and final goal her side’s demolition of Thailand to open the World Cup, leading to her starting opportunity against Chile.

As she has done so many times in her career, Lloyd took her chance. She may be destined to spend a significant portion of this World Cup on the bench, but she has made it clear that she is not going to go quietly.

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