Carli Lloyd, a former World Player of the Year who was one of the career leaders of the United States women’s national team in goals, matches and honors, announced Monday that she will retire from football at the age of 39.
Lloyd will finish the season with her National Women’s Soccer League team, Gotham FC, playing in four exhibition games for the US team in September and October before calling it a career.
Lloyd has played in four World Cups, won in 2015 and 2019 and won the Golden Ball for best player in 2015. She also played in four Olympics, won gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and bronze this summer in Tokyo.
The 2015 World Cup was arguably her highlight. She had a hat-trick in the final, a 5-2 win against Japan, with her third goal coming on a daring chip from the midfield line.
Lloyd scored 128 goals for the US team, finishing fourth behind Abby Wambach, Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly, all of whom retired. Her 312 international appearances are second only to Lilly.
She had two goals in the bronze medal match at the Olympics earlier this month, her ninth and tenth Olympic goals, the most by an American player. She also played for five different NWSL franchises.
“With all the goals, the trophies, the medals and the championships won, I am most proud of having been able to unashamedly be myself,” Lloyd said in a statement.
Lloyd grew up in South Jersey and played for Rutgers. She made her national team debut at the age of 23 and has rarely been out of the team since.
Other members of the women’s soccer team are considering retiring. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe and defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who are both 36 and long-time members of the United States team like Lloyd, both said in Japan they would think about their football future after the Games.
Unlike some national teams in other sports, the women’s team operates in multi-year cycles rather than an annual basis, meaning players like Lloyd, Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn — and anyone else considering quitting for whatever reason — are left with the decision. most likely tied for the team through the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
For some, that might be a bit too far. Rapinoe said she would discuss retirement with her partner, basketball star Sue Bird, who is considering relinquishing her sport after winning her fifth gold medal at age 40. Sauerbrunn said she would go home and talk to the people closest to her before getting a phone call about continuing her career, “to see if I still have those.”
Lloyd, however, had done little to hide the fact that she was inclined to run away. She was one of the most driven and dedicated players in the team’s history, speaking freely – and with rare candor – about what might come next.
After the Americans lost to Canada in the semifinals, she lingered long behind her teammates on the field, seemingly unwilling to leave, and made the drive to the stadium for the bronze medal game by staring out the window, said she, and reminisced about the long arc of her career.
“Obviously I’m at the end of my career,” she said after the United States won the bronze. “Physically I feel really good, but at some point you have to hang up the boots and live life. And I know my husband is eagerly awaiting my shutdown, because it’s been 17 years since I was just grinding. ”
She then declined to be more specific. She was more excited than ever, she admitted, to come home from a tournament, step back and clear her head. “First I’m going to take two or three days to sit by my pool and not move,” she said of her decision to retire. “Maybe four.”
In the end, it only took her a little over a week to make it official.
“It’s always been in the back of mind,” Lloyd said in her latest public remarks in Japan. “But I’ve always wanted to be the one to dictate that.”