Carli Lloyd is an American hero. The United States and Japan kicked off the World Cup final with over 50,000 watching in Vancouver, and tens of millions around the world. Within minutes, the game turned into the Carli Lloyd Show. It took just 16 minutes for her to score a hat trick, the final tally from midfield, and with that, she etched her name into history.
After the final whistle, she got her chance to hold the World Cup trophy for the first time. She was also given the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and tied for the lead in goals. She was, for all intents and purposes, World Cup Queen.
And this for a player who has been either besieged by criticism for much of career, or entirely overlooked.
Lloyd is an atypical player. She doesn’t fit into any traditional position, not quite defensive enough to be a holding midfielder, or the passer to be a box-to-box distributor, or even creative enough to be an attacking midfielder. That’s made it difficult for managers to figure out where to play her, observers to understand what she brought to the team and everyone to appreciate her contributions.
For years, the thought was that Lloyd wasn’t good enough. Or if she was good enough, there should be someone better to surpass her anywhere.
But in 2012, it was her goals that fired the U.S. to the gold medal at the Olympics. And in 2015, it was her six goals and 16-minute hat trick in the final that delivered them the World Cup.
If there was any doubt that Lloyd was one of the best players in the world, a player who would live on in history, it was over in the 16th minute. She spotted the goalkeeper off her line and, from midfield, essentially clinched the World Cup..
One shot. One goal.
And with that shot and goal, the criticism was gone. The constant overlooking was gone. She was a World Cup champion and had put together arguably the greatest showing in the history of World Cup finals. Lloyd is one of the best, a title she will take to her grave, critics be damned.