U.S. soccer legend Lloyd sent off to retirement by adoring Allianz Field crowd

U.S. soccer legend Lloyd sent off to retirement by adoring Allianz Field crowd

In the 64th minute of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s 6-0 victory over South Korea on Tuesday, Carli Lloyd took off her soccer boots and game jersey, waved and blew a kiss to the adoring Allianz Field crowd. Then she embraced her teammates and coaches as she walked off into retirement.

A full crowd that came to say goodbye didn’t get to cheer a final 135th career goal in her 316th national team game. But they did say farewell with flowers and signs. Always driven, and sometimes distant, Lloyd said goodbye in return, embracing the end of her 17-year career by playing her final game for her country.

As she left, she took off her red, white and blue jersey with her surname on the back and revealed the same jersey underneath. Only this one had the last name of her husband — golf pro Brian Hollins — on back.

Lloyd’s team led 2-0 when she left. By then, the U.S. team had scored first-half goals by Lindsey Horan in the ninth minute and a South Korea own goal off a caroming U.S. corner kick just seconds before halftime.

Horan’s left-footed strike from distance opened the scoring five days after Lloyd passed on her No. 10 jersey to Horan in the locker room before a scoreless tie with South Korea in Kansas City.

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski started the retiring icon amid a young lineup on the final night of a post-Tokyo Olympics tour before he subbed in stars Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan early in the second half.

Each scored a goal after halftime — after Lloyd left the field.

Before Tuesday’s game, Lloyd was presented with a framed jersey displaying her name and “316,” the number of national team games she now has played.

That’s second in world soccer history, behind only former teammate Kristine Lilly’s 354 career caps.

She fought back tears and waved in every direction to fans who arrived early. Some stood in long lines down the stadium corridors, waiting to buy her and other team stars’ jerseys. Some carried signs, others wore that No. 10 jersey number before she greeted nearly 30 family members and friends who came from back home.

Included were her parents, Pam and Steve, and husband, Brian. They wore her jerseys and presented her floral bouquets.

During the first half, Loons television analyst Kyndra de St. Aubin — Fox Sports 1 reporter for the night — interviewed her parents and asked what their daughter might not miss now that her demanding 17-year career is over.

“Vacations, holidays, birthdays, maybe children in the future,” Steve Lloyd said. “We’re looking forward to a lot.”

At halftime, Allianz Field’s big south-end board carried video messages from Minnesota United’s Adrian Heath, Ethan Finlay and Wil Trapp as well as Twins pitcher Joe Ryan and others.

“It’s hard to put into words how impressive what she’s done, the things she’s won,” Trapp said last week in an interview after Loons training. “Just the way she’s carried herself for me is most impressive. She’s an amazing ambassador for the sport across the globe, whether it’s men’s or women’s soccer.

“It’s exciting that we get to send her off in the right way.”

It was Lloyd’s second game played at Allianz Field. The USWNT played a friendly there in September 2019, the stadium’s inaugural season.

Lloyd scored twice — the second on an awarded penalty kick — in the first 32 minutes and Horan scored late in a 3-0 victory.

She also played with the national team in an October 2016 game at the Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium, beating Switzerland 5-1.

Lloyd’s NWSL Gotham FC team moved one of its home game to Philadelphia three weeks ago so she could play a club game in her hometown.

“It’s not Jersey, it’s not Philly,” Lloyd said in a Monday video call with reporters about playing her final national team game in St. Paul. “But looking at this stadium, having played here once before, it’s an unbelievable stadium. I’m thrilled. It’s going to be amazing atmosphere. I’m just ready to soak it all in.”

Fans brought homemade signs, one of which read “316 Caps: You Worked, We Watched.” Another said “Write Your Own Script” and a third implored her to stick around for the next World Cup. That will be played in New Zealand and Australia in 2023.

She won’t wait around for that, even if she might have been inspired by Sunday ‘s Rolling Stones concert at US Bank Stadium in which she watched 78-year-old Mick Jagger dance his way toward 80.She promised she’d take her farewell all in as she had throughout this four-game, post-Tokyo Olympics tour that ended Tuesday night.

“I’m embracing everything,” Lloyd said. “I’m not blocking out the noise. I’m hearing the chants. I’m hearing the cheers. I’m seeing the posters and the support. People have texted me — fans, teammates, former teammates. It just been more than I ever could imagined. I know I’m starting to get more emotional and I’m Tuesday will be very emotional. But I’m going to let the emotions fly out and enjoy it.”

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