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Carli's ability to raise her game in pressure situations sets her apart from the rest.

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Carli Lloyd Kicks Back

The U.S. Women's Soccer Icon Looks at Life On and Off the Field

Despite her unprecedented success in Olympics and Women's World Cup soccer, Carli Lloyd is still the down-to-earth person she was while playing college soccer 15 years ago. The Delran, New Jersey, native played at Rutgers University, graduating in 2005 with a degree in exercise science and sport studies. Now 37, Carli describes herself as hard-working, relentless and highly competitive—but only when competing against herself.

"I have an addiction to becoming better and better every single day," she says."I always want to turn my weaknesses into strengths." 

We had a chance to look talk candidly with Carli Llyod and James Galanis, her personal coach, about life on the soccer field in the past, present, and future. 

Early on in your career, you were cut from the U.S. Under-21 Team. What happened, and what was your mindset?

Carli: It was such a difficult time for me that I was on the verge of quitting. Until then I had gotten by on sheer talent and never really had to push myself. I didn’t know how a professional player really thinks.  

What were the critical elements that enabled you to develop from that point to becoming a two-time World Player of the Year?

Carli: Being introduced to my personal coach, James Galanis, of Universal Soccer Academy, was definitely the turning point for me. He evaluated me, designed a plan, and instilled me with confidence. He changed the way I trained and thought about the game. From that point on, I have been on a mission to improve with each day.

What were your first impressions and thoughts of Carli in that first meeting?

James: I knew Carli had potential in terms of skill and game sense. She was humble and willing to work hard. It was obvious that all she needed was someone to guide her and give her the confidence to believe in herself.

What separates you from everyone else?

Carli: I think what sets me apart is my dedication to improving, my ability to raise my game in pressure situations, and my willingness to do whatever it takes to find the edge.

What is different in your training with Carli?

James: Carli has consistently improved, and I have had to continuously change the training environment in order to stimulate and challenge her. We started by refining the basics and have consistently elevated her game by finding things she is not good at and improving these weak areas.

What keeps you motivated?

Carli: I am highly competitive, but only when competing against myself. I have an addiction to becoming better and better every single day. I always want to turn my weaknesses into strengths. 

Do you see yourself as a role model? Mentor?

Carli: I think I have always been a good person and done the right things both on and off the field. This has helped me in becoming a positive role model. Playing for the USWNT gives you the opportunity to really influence people, and I have always done my best to be sure I am impacting young and old people in a positive way.

The World Cup victory in France wasn’t without adversity for you. With Coach Ellis’ decision to use you primarily off the bench, what did you do to push through it?

Carli: One of my core values is to only worry about what I can control. I always knew I couldn’t control who the coaches pick, so I accepted the role I was given.

Where do you feel you are mentally and physically now at the age of 37?

Carli: There is no doubt that I am in the best form ever. I feel like I have improved to a point where everything has aligned. Physically I feel great, tactically I know the game better than ever, my skills are sharper than ever, and I have the experience to know what’s coming.

Does the announcement that Coach Ellis will be stepping down this October as the USWNT head coach have any influence on your decision to be at next summer’s Olympics in Japan and another World Cup cycle?

Carli: I want to play for as long as I feel good. If my body allows me to play at my best, I will continue. If not, I will step away. Right now, I feel like I can still help my team win. I want to be at next summer’s 2020 Olympics in Japan. I'm not sure about another World Cup cycle. I need to get through the Olympics first.

Looking back, what are your thoughts on your 15-year journey with Carli?

James: I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with Carli. From day one, she has shown me the utmost respect and has absorbed all my teaching and emptied the tank at training every single day. She is the ultimate student and has an incredible will to do whatever it takes to improve her game. Aside from the on-the-field success, what makes me proudest is the person Carli has become. She is a first-class role model and has not changed as a person. She’s the same Carli I met back then.

When you eventually retire, how do you want to be remembered?

Carli: I want to be remembered for what I did on the field and for the way I handled adversity throughout my career. I want people to see that anything is possible through sacrifice, hard work, and dedication.

What legacy do you want to leave?

Carli: I want people to know that I wasn’t the next big thing out of college that was going to go on and become the upcoming star. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey and through my will and dedication, I worked tirelessly to get to the top. You ultimately decide what path you take in life, and I never gave up no matter what was thrown in my way.

What life events have occurred for you recently?

Carli: I got married in November 2016 and bought a house in Medford, New Jersey, in 2018.

Tell us about your relationship with Brian. How and when did you meet? 

Carli: We met in high school. Brian lived up the street from my aunt, and his best friend lived next door to her. I was always outside playing and hanging out with his best friend when I was younger. I didn’t know him very well, but I saw him in the neighborhood riding around on his dirt bike and playing sports. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I heard through a friend that he liked me. Instead of going on a date, we hung out in a big group together. I think what brought us together straight away was how athletic we both were and we loved playing any sort of activity together. Brian will say it was love at first sight for him! Haha. I was still scoping him out and playing hard to get. The rest is history! 

What does the future hold for you and Brian? 

Carli: I have been very committed to my craft, but when I am done playing in a few years, we would like to potentially backpack through Europe, travel the world, and then start a family. Having two kids would be something we would love. 

Do you volunteer/give back anywhere?

Carli: I am a mentor for the Medford Strikers Soccer Club and Universal Soccer Academy. I try to talk to the kids and share stories with them that will help them on the field and in life. 

Do you have any hobbies? 

Carli: I love cooking and organizing! 

When you have some downtime, what do you enjoy doing? 

Carli: I don’t relax much, but when I do have downtime, I just like being home, watching a show or movie, getting my nails done or shopping.

After soccer, what is your next career ambition?

Carli: After starting a family, I’m not sure what my next career ambition would be. It depends on what doors open up. Potentially, it might be speaking or organizing and running clinics to help the next generation.

Favorite Foods: Indian and barbecue

Favorite Restaurants: Pietros Pizza, Barclay Prime, Zahav, Tequilas in Philly

Favorite Vacation Destination: Barcelona, Spain; Greece, Maldives

  • Carli Lloyd: Two-Time World Champion
  • Carli thanks the fans as she walks off the field.
  • Carli's ability to raise her game in pressure situations sets her apart from the rest.
  • The bride and groom finish their first dance with a flourish.
  • Carli and Brian celebrate after being married on a beach in Mexico in November 2016.
  • Carli practices her footwork while playing at Delran High School.
  • Brain and Carli take a stroll on the beach as the sun sets.