news 1 week ago

With Olympics postponed, soccer great Carli Lloyd puts off retirement for a year

Los Angeles Times — By Kevin Baxter Los Angeles Times

March 24-- Carli Lloyd has had one of the most spectacular careers in soccer history.

A two-time women's world player of the year, a two-time World Cup champion and the only player to score the winning goal in two Olympics, Lloyd planned to make the Tokyo Games her curtain call.

On Tuesday those plans changed.

With the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government announcing they are postponing the Games because of the coronavirus outbreak, Lloyd now plans to stick around another year in the hope she can grab one more gold medal.

"It's bigger than an Olympics. I definitely think it's the right call," Lloyd, speaking in a TV interview, said of the postponement. "Disappointed, but I think for the safety of everybody, it's definitely the best thing."

U.S. Soccer also applauded the IOC's announcement.

"I think it's a great decision," said federation President Cindy Parlow Cone, who played in three Olympics, including the first women's tournament in 1996. "We don't want to put anyone's health at risk. Our athletes' or the fans' that would be going over to Japan.

"I was in communication with the players and the coaches to see what their sense of it was. And the decision that the IOC came out with ... is right in line with what the athletes and coaches were thinking."

If the Olympics are delayed a full year and Lloyd makes the U.S. team for a record-tying fourth time, she will be 39 when the tournament begins in 2021. Her 16 appearances in Olympic competition are tied for second in U.S. history behind Christine Rampone's 22 games and Lloyd's eight goals are the most by an American. And she's played well the last two years, leading the U.S. with 18 scores despite coming off the bench in 14 of her 29 appearances.

She's received added playing time this year with Alex Morgan sidelined awaiting the birth of her first child. Morgan was hoping to return in time to compete for a spot on the Olympic team; Tuesday's postponement gives her an additional year to prepare.

This was expected to be the deepest women's field in Olympic history. Including the U.S., eight of the 10 countries that have qualified for the 12-team Olympic tournament played in the knockout rounds in last summer's Women's World Cup in France.

But their preparations for Tokyo were upended by the coronavirus. The U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan all canceled scheduled spring friendlies.

On the men's side, the only confederation that hasn't finished its qualifying tournament is CONCACAF, whose eight-team competition, featuring the U.S. and Mexico, was scheduled to open last week in Guadalajara. That was postponed earlier this month and no new dates have been selected.

"It's different on the men's side than the women's side because the men still have to go through qualification," Cone said. "So there are a lot of questions we will try to (answer) in a short period of time."

The men's tournament is an age-group competition in the Olympics. The U.S., which has played in the Summer Games just once since 2000, has perhaps its deepest U-23 player pool in a generation, one that includes Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest. All will still be age-eligible for the Olympics in summer 2021.

___

(c)2020 Los Angeles Times

Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.