There was something missing at last night’s MLS All-Star Game in the Mile-High City, other than oxygen, competitive significance and Pep Guardiola getting pissed off at Caleb Porter.
That something was, of course, America’s top player: Carli Lloyd.
These days it’s hard to justify any sort of soccer match that has the temerity to call itself “All Star” without Lloyd. In her absence, it’s more like “All of the Stars, Pretty Much, But Sorry, We Didn’t Get the Biggest One.”
There may be some narrow-minded individuals who would churlishly point out that Lloyd plays in the National Women’s Soccer League and so has no place in an MLS match. But as the U.S. World Cup hero continues to conquer all before her, like a juggernaut that happens to be very proficient at long distance shots, that’s an increasingly untenable position.
Ask yourself: who is the bigger draw? Some slightly above-average English team (Tottenham I think they’re called. The Hotspurs?) or Carli Lloyd, the player who scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final, beat the goalkeeper from halfway and is very probably going to end global famine and war whenever she has some free time.
Yes, last night Harry Kane did this.
But Carli Lloyd, scoring a late winner for the Houston Dash in a 3-2 victory over FC Kansas City, did this:
She’s scored in seven straight games. She contributed the winner in the previous Dash match, too.
Ask yourself: is seducing European stars who are so old and frail they can no longer walk up stairs unaided the best growth policy for MLS? Or should the league just sign Carli Lloyd? That’s your MLS 3.0 (or MLS 3.1 Mountain Lion, whatever) right there, isn’t it? Sign Carli Lloyd. Then we can head to the bar to celebrate becoming a top global competition. First round’s on me. I texted Don Garber, he’s coming later.
And who’s posing the tough questions to under-fire U.S. national team boss Jurgen Klinsmann right now? Such as: why did you call DaMarcus Beasley into the Gold Cup roster at the quarter-final stage, but not Carli Lloyd?
The last time Lloyd failed to score in a competitive match, June 16, was the same day Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president — seeking to tap into a sense of national malaise because it is clear that when Lloyd does not find the net, something is wrong in America.
Yet, even with Trump riding high in the polls, who among us does not genuinely believe that were Carli Lloyd to enter the 2016 White House race, she would win? That Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz and perhaps even Jeb Bush would abandon their campaigns, realizing the hopelessness of their situations?
So yeah, Carli Lloyd should have been on the field in Denver yesterday, doing what she currently does better than anyone else on the planet. But given the challenges America’s facing, perhaps we need her in the Oval Office, not just the center circle.