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It is finally time to send Mrs. Hollins out into the world.
Carli Lloyd married her high school sweetheart, Brian Hollins, in 2016. For simplicity’s sake, Lloyd kept her maiden name for her business identity. After all, Lloyd had built a well-known brand as one of the world’s top soccer players.
“From the minute we got married, I have been Mrs. Hollins everywhere except on the back of my jersey,” Lloyd said. “I'm excited. Excited to spend more time with my husband. We want to go on trips, we want to ski together. We want to just do all the things that I've had on hold.
“I reunited with my family so we're going to have a lot more time to spend together. And my friends. And just being home and being able to do normal things like every other normal human does.”
That’s all well and good, except Lloyd doesn’t do things every other normal human does. Only one human has ever played more international soccer games for their country than Lloyd’s 312. Only three humans have ever scored more than her 128 international goals. Just one United States Women’s National Team player has matched Lloyd’s eight career hat tricks.
And no human has scored more goals after the age of 30 than Lloyd has. In fact, since the day she turned 30, no player anywhere in the world has scored as many goals as Lloyd.
Lloyd finalized her decision to step away from soccer last week. She’ll play for the USWNT in their four Fall Series games in the Midwest, while finishing out the NWSL soccer season with Gotham FC in early November.
During an exclusive hour-long talk during the commute from her Medford, N.J. home to her first team training session before Gotham FC returns to action for a road trip to Tacoma, Washington and Portland, Lloyd looked back, but mostly forward.
“This next chapter was always in the back of my mind,” Lloyd said. “I wanted to get through another Olympics. And I wanted to go out on my terms. I didn't want to be cut, to be pushed out. I wanted to dictate when I was going to hang up my boots.”
Lloyd will be 39 when the whistle blows for the final time in her career. She’s spent 34 of those years playing soccer. She graduated from Delran (N.J.) High School in 2001. She set the all-time scoring record at Rutgers before graduating in 2005. She’s played at the highest level of club soccer in six American and English cities since 2009.
She started her United States career on the under-21 national team before joining the USWNT in 2005.
Not surprisingly, Lloyd, a two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, still sees mountains to climb.
“I'm hoping to add an NWSL championship to my resume,” Lloyd said. “That would be that would be really cool, and we have an opportunity so I'm going to give it all I have for my team for the next several months and, you know, see what happens.”
With a pair of games against Uruguay and two more against South Korea, there are still a few USWNT milestones within reach. If they come, they come.
“It's funny actually,” Lloyd said. “I just had this conversation with Brian the other night. It's not about the records. It's not about scoring any more goals. These next four games. I want to literally slow down time, I want to just enjoy every moment that I'm out on that field. I want to just soak it up I want to savor it because it's, it's going to be over in a blink of an eye. That's my goal and whatever comes with it. But for me, I want to just slow down time and enjoy every moment these next four games.”
After spending 44 days all but quarantined with the USWNT for the Tokyo Olympics, the famously in-the-moment Lloyd is taking better stock of her surroundings. More so than ever when it comes to the USWNT.
“We're like family,” Lloyd said. “We spend more time on the road with one another than we do with our own family, friends and significant others. I've spent a lot of years with some players. I've experienced so many memorable things with a lot of these players.
“I've played with little over 100 teammates, and it's incredible and you know I couldn't have done this journey without all of them. They've all played a role. We've all pushed one another so I get to spend two more trips, four more games with them on the road. Then I can turn my attention to being a fan and cheering them on.”
Playing for her country has changed Lloyd. Just not so much as you would expect. After thousands of interviews across every continent, Lloyd’s answers are always well-considered, thought-out and measured. Her answers are rarely moderated.
She doesn’t leave people wondering what she really means. That’s the Jersey in her.
"People make fun of Jersey people, I think because we're honest, we're blunt and we're tough,” Lloyd said. “You don't back down. Yeah, it has been in my blood.
“I'm super thankful that I'm able to have played here for the last several years with my club and being able to close out my career in Jersey because you know I love it. This is home. I've just used that jersey attitude to, you know to fuel me throughout my career. I think people haven't always seen or respected what I've done throughout my career but at the end of the day I'm, I'm proud because I did it my way.”
The stance should serve Lloyd well into the future.
Through her entire career, through ups and downs, regardless of the most current take on her ability, she has remained unapologetically, authentically Carli. People know what Lloyd stands for.
Sponsors understand, too.
"I think there are going to be more opportunities that come because I'm not playing,” Lloyd said. “I definitely enjoy speaking. I'm going to probably stay involved with FIFA and US Soccer in some capacity. Want to help the game continue to grow and want to help the next generation of players.
“I've got some really great sponsors who, you know, want to continue to keep the relationship going and it's just going to be in a different role. So, we'll see what happens. It's weird to be retiring at the age of 39. Most people don't. Whatever I want to do I'm going to put my mind to do it and opportunities are going to come and just have to figure out what exactly I want to do.”
That’s the most exciting part. Lloyd was a year ahead of her husband Brian at Delran and they’ve been together for most of the last two decades, through college in Florida and at Rutgers. Through two decades of national team road trips, through a training schedule that has no breaks of holidays built in.
"Through it all, the one thing that has been the constant throughout our lives is the love that we have for one another,” Lloyd said. “Just like I've fought for my soccer career and gone through so much, it has been the same for Brian. We have wanted to be together forever. We have wanted to make our relationship work. We have spent countless hours building a foundation that we have and we cherish.”
Lloyd has an exciting, and for once, unknown future ahead of her. As usual, she is perfectly prepared for the challenge.
“Brian is an unbelievable person, an amazing husband,” Lloyd said. “I know he's going to be an amazing dad. Once I told him after the Olympics that this is going to be it, he had a smile from ear to ear. Because, you know, he's ready. We want to ski together. We want to ride our four wheelers together. We want to take trips together.”
And they want to spend holidays together, without the next workout, the next road trip, the next ‘next’ Lloyd has in front of her, hanging over their heads.
Starting now, Lloyd is in the business of being Mrs. Hollins full time.
“Now my Christmas morning is going to be wake up whenever I wake up and just chill out,” Lloyd said. “That's for sure. Although after Christmas, I might have to run off all the food.”
Follow Tom Rimback on Twitter @RimbackBCT.
This article originally appeared on Burlington County Times: Carli Lloyd: What's next for USWNT star after soccer retirement