Culture

Carli Lloyd Stands Alone

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

In the world of soccer the jersey number 10 is a special one. The person wearing that number is the playmaker. They’re usually positioned either as the lead striker or the attacker just behind the lead striker. Most of the most decisive passes and scoring opportunities are created by or go through the #10.

For the U.S. women’s national soccer team, Carli Lloyd wears the #10 jersey. Other players such as Megan Rapinoe absorb more of the media attention and endorsements, but U.S. women’s coaches have long acknowledged Lloyd as the team’s playmaker.

Six years ago, it was Lloyd leading the way as the U.S. women defeated Japan in the World Cup final. Her 16-minute hat trick put Japan to the sword. They never recovered and the Americans got revenge for losing the World Cup final to Japan four years earlier.

Going into the Tokyo Olympics, Lloyd said she’d never been happier on the team. Rapinoe had played inconsistently but had consistently used her status on the team to make political statements. Lloyd stayed quiet and just did her job on the pitch.

They lost the semi-final to Canada and had to settle for playing against Australia in the bronze medal match.

Related: Why This American Record-Breaker Has Me Excited About the Olympics

All but one of the U.S. players knelt before that game. The only woman who stood was playmaker Carli Lloyd. She has, to my knowledge, never knelt during any of the protests the team has engaged in over the past year. Lloyd has always stood, and as she did before the match versus Australia, often alone.

Lloyd stands alone in another way. She contributed two goals to the 4-3 win over Australia, bringing her Olympic total to 10 goals. The 39-year-old #10 now owns the record for the most goals scored by an American woman in the Olympics. She also has 10 World Cup goals, just four behind Abby Wambach in the top spot.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has been a divisive presence at the Olympics. Their kneeling (other than Lloyd) before the 3-0 thrashing by Sweden in the opening match brought jeers. Hopefully, Lloyd’s courage and her power on the pitch can earn her and the team some cheers.