USWNT legend Carli Lloyd has been trading training tips with UFC star while eyeing NWSL season, Tokyo Olympics

United States women’s national team legend Carli Lloyd will turn 38 in July, and the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympics figure to be her last as a player. That extra year of waiting isn’t something Lloyd is letting bother her in her pursuit of a third gold medal. Lloyd said she will be ready for the Olympics in 15 months, embracing the unique challenge of the rescheduling.

“I think I’ve gotten better with age and am still one of the fittest players on the [national team],” Lloyd told CBS Sports. “There’s no concern whatsoever [about being at the Olympics next year]. I’ve got internal motivation that has never left me.

“It gives me the opportunity to give everything I’ve got for another year.”

Here are more highlights from our chat with the star forward.

Better with age and no signs of stopping

Lloyd, who has spent the last month secluded with her husband at their New Jersey home, has taken plenty of time during quarantine to assess her game, what needs to change as she gets older and what she can do to stay at the top. One thing she hasn’t focused on is retirement. Lloyd hasn’t set a retirement date or a target age of when she going to hang up her cleats, and she’s just enjoying what’s left of her career. What fuels her is a belief that she is improving with each day and a determination to show it. 

The hero of the 2015 World Cup, Lloyd’s minutes have decreased with the national team as she’s aged. But she has fought to earn playing time, scoring twice at the 2019 World Cup as the USWNT won another championship in France. 

“With another year, I’m just going to get better, sharper on the ball, more fit, become even more efficient, smarter,” Lloyd said. 

Itching for NWSL

Lloyd continues to train five or six days a week as she waits on word about the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League season. A member of NWSL club Sky Blue FC, Lloyd is eager for the league to get underway. The start of the season, originally set for last weekend, has been delayed. She understands of the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation and is only ready to play when it is safe.

While Lloyd’s goal is to win an NWSL title for the first time, she also places plenty of importance on increasing the game’s exposure and inspiring young athletes. It’s something that registers in her mind often, especially when seeing the young fans at games. 

“I think what was special about women’s soccer is the ’99 [USWNT] won the World Cup and there was big excitement,” Lloyd said. “They had their league and it eventually folded. It kind of took years to gain popularity for the U.S. women’s national team. I would say around 2011 is when the excitement started to happen more and more, and then obviously the 2015 World Cup. We’ve been booming, and the support has been unbelievable.

“We have this league that has many amazing players. The best league in the world in my opinion. It’s exciting. Every single weekend, it’s anybody’s game. It’s a great product and a great family environment.”

Learning from a UFC star

In the meantime, Lloyd has embraced the chance to learn from another star athlete. Lloyd participated in a new Quibi series called Iron Sharpens Iron, and worked with UFC star Amanda Nunes. Lloyd tried out some UFC drills and shared some training secrets with Nunes.

“I was a big Amanda fan prior to this and think she is unbelievable in UFC,” Lloyd said. “The thought of being paired up with her [is] really cool. She’s supportive of women’s soccer, growing up in Brazil. She’s got a bit of skill herself. It was really interesting because every athlete, the majority of them, we train a little bit different, our sports are different. But the mindset is very similar. The sacrifice is similar.”

An ‘amazing journey’

Lloyd has been patient with sports shut down during the pandemic, and the time has offered her a chance to look back at what’s been one of the greatest women’s soccer careers ever. From her first cap in 2005 to where she is now, it hasn’t been easy but it’s been more rewarding than she could have imagined.

Lloyd said she never thought she’d have a decorated international career that has featured nearly 300 caps and 123 goals.

“My journey. Everything that I’ve gone through,” Lloyd said. “It’s the whole [career]. My first cap, July of 2005 against Ukraine. That was the start of this amazing journey. Never in a million years I thought I would have accomplished what I have accomplished.”

She’s ready to add more accomplishments when soccer returns.

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