'I just adapt': Carli Lloyd reveals the triumph and heartbreak of her English adventure
Few subjects get people talking about the English FA Women’s Super League more than transfers of players into the league from abroad. So when American stars Heather O'Reilly (Arsenal), Carli Lloyd (Manchester City) and Crystal Dunn (Chelsea) all headed across the pond in quick succession, all of a sudden England was a big discussion point for soccer fans in the United States.
Lloyd signed for the shortened Spring Series, as well as UEFA Women’s Champions League. Manchester City exited Europe at the semifinal stage, but Lloyd and did win the FA Cup last month at Wembley, where her heroics had previously won her an Olympic gold medal.
FourFourTwo caught up with Lloyd, U.S. women’s national team captain, to discuss the highs and lows of her time in Manchester, which ended on a very scary note.
Did the move meet your expectations?
It did. Going into something like this, you’re not sure what to expect. I had obviously already visited the facilities and I knew there was going to be a great group of girls. The league is getting better and better, so it was a fantastic experience for me on so many different levels.
I lived in the city center, so I really just took it all in and it went past super quick. I know this experience will pay off later on.
How was the adjustment and transition to your time in England?
You know, it was good. I’m soon to be 35, I’ve married my high school sweetheart, Brian, and we’ve been together for 17 years, and for 15, 16 of those we’ve done long distance.
But there is a different feel being overseas. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was great and I am the type of person whether I’m in Houston, New Jersey or Manchester, I just adapt.
What was available to you that isn’t available in the U.S?
Well, everything was there in one place. I’d get in for breakfast, we’d get ready for training, and I literally didn’t have to leave for meals. The stadium was there, the pitches, the locker room, cold tubs – you name it, it was there.
I think that’s what we’re sort of missing back in America. There are some stadiums that have great infrastructure and we have one of the best soccer specific stadiums in Houston. But we don’t train there; we drive to a different training facility, so we don’t have everything in one place, which we had at City and I made the most of that.
The Champions League was a big pull for you. What was that experience like?
It was a great experience and was obviously a big draw for me going to England. It’s up there with World Cups and Olympics, but it’s different because you play home legs and you play away legs.
I think for us, against Lyon, there were two different matches. I think the first game we gave them too much respect (Lyon won 3-1 in Manchester). The players knew that, and away from home we went for it (City won 1-0 in Lyon).
I’m not sure if I will have that experience again, and I would obviously have liked to have gone to the final, but it was still a win in my eyes of reaching that semifinal and winning in Lyon.
What chance is there that we’ll see you back in England?
I'm not closing any doors, but my immediate focus is the games with the national team and Houston.
How conscious were you of the spotlight being on you following such a high-profile move?
Everything was good. It brought awareness to the league and for fans that can’t come to America; it meant I could sign something for them after the game. It was a little bit different because the league is a bit physical and a lot of games crammed into a short amount of time. But the fan base was good and the people in Manchester were really warm towards me.