Legend: Carli Lloyd sent into retirement by adoring crowd in St. Paul

·4 min read
Legend: Carli Lloyd sent into retirement by adoring crowd in St. Paul

In the 64thminute of her national team's 6-0 friendly victory over South Korea on Tuesday, Carli Lloyd took off her soccer boots and game jersey in the middle of the field, blew a kiss to a nearly full Allianz Field and embraced her teammates and coaches before she walked off into retirement.

Fans who came to say goodbye didn't get to cheer a final, 135thcareer goal in her 316thnational team game. But they said farewell with flowers, signs and jerseys worn all night long and she returned the love in a five-minute speech after the game was over.

"This is one of the most special nights I've ever had in my life," she said.

After days and weeks anticipating this last game, she mostly simply thanked others.

"I think I've cried all the tears I probably could," she said.

👏👏 @CarliLloyd walks off the field for the last time in a @USWNT jersey 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/GTGo4FzVCb

— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) October 27, 2021

So she thanked everyone who came to see her play for her country one last time at age 39 and after a 17-year career that included two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals won. She won two FIFA Player of the Year awards, too.

Lloyd thanked her teammates and coaches past and present, the team's staff that grew from few to many in all those years and nearly 30 family members, including her parents and husband, and friends who joined her.

She even thanked the "doubters and critics" who pushed her to greater heights.

Lloyd didn't play her final U.S. team game back home near Philadelphia. Instead, she played at Allianz Field for the second time in three years, this time on a night she called unforgettable.

"Those 34 years playing this beautiful game, it has been an honor," Lloyd said. "I have been absolutely grateful every time I stepped out on this field and I hope you know I gave it everything I had for every single one of you. I will never forget this moment. I will never forget this city, Minnesota, this stadium, the atmosphere, the people."

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

"To leave the field one last time with the Lloyd jersey on my back and then go off as Hollins, that's a tribute to the next chapter," she said. " This next chapter is going to be about Brian and me and that's going to be really special."

U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski started Lloyd amid a young lineup that's the future on the final night of a four-game, post-Tokyo Olympics tour before he subbed stars Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan early in the second half just as Lloyd was leaving.

Ahead 2-0 when Lloyd left, all three players scored a goal in a four-goal second half after Lindsey Horan opened the scoring in the game's ninth minute.

Last week in Kansas City, Lloyd passed along her No. 10 jersey to Horan in the locker room before another game against South Korea.

In her postgame speech Tuesday, Lloyd noted that she outlasted every single national team coach for which she played, except for one.

"You should feel very special," she said to Andonovski, almost giggling.

Afterward, Andonovski said this about a player he has coached the past two years.

"We know Carli is a legend, everyone knows she is a legend," he said. "But you almost forgot everything she has done. Those 17 years, you cannot remember everything. What a legend, what a career and she has earned every bit of it."

Lloyd still has two games left — and possibly playoffs — with her NWSL Gotham FC team. Still, she said her goodbyes Tuesday night.

"Thank you to everybody who has played a role in my journey," she said. "I can't thank you enough and that's it. I'm signing off. You will not see me on the field, but you best believe I will be around helping this game grow."

And then she dropped the microphone on the Allianz Field grass.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting