February 19, 2016
PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE
Lloyd: Olympic semifinal qualifier is a 'World Cup final'
By Michael Lewis
|Carli Lloyd: "I think getting out of the gate early is what this team does best and we have to continue to do that. This is a final and we'll do anything possible to get the job done."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
HOUSTON -- United States captain Carli Lloyd, who has forged a reputation with some memorable gold-medal standard performances in the Summer Games, is not taking Trinidad & Tobago lightly in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals Friday.
The World Cup champions are favored to reach their sixth consecutive Olympics. Yet, Lloyd realizes it is what transpires on the field, not talk that decides.
"To me it's a World Cup final," she said at a press conference at BBVA Compass Stadium Thursday.
The winner will clinch a spot at the Rio Olympics and play the Costa Rica-Canada winner for the confederation title Sunday.
Lloyd, who tallied the game-winning goal at the last two Olympic gold-medal finals, won the FIFA Women's World Player of the year after registering a hat-trick in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup final. She also was one of four American women who was named to the FIFPro Women's World XI team Thursday.
"It doesn't matter what happened in the last three games that we've played," she said. "We have to come out ready. I think getting out of the gate early is what this team does best and we have to continue to do that. This is a final and we'll do anything possible to get the job done."
USA head coach Jill Ellis said that she was concerned about the Caribbean champions' counterattack.
"They pose a lot of different challenges for us," she said. "We certainly have to be prepared and ready to go. the players understand what's at stake. We're at full throttle tomorrow.
"They're a good transition team. If we get into an attacking shape and not prepared for some counter measures, it could get opened up a little. It's just us being smart on how we attack. Both their wide players transition very well."
The Americans, who have never missed an Olympic soccer tournament, have earned four gold medals, the last three, and one silver.
When the USA and Trinidad met in the CONCACAF Women's Championship in October 2014, the Americans squeaked out a 1-0 victory.
Lloyd discounted that result.
"That was a long time ago. We've changed, They've changed," Lloyd said. "You really can't look back in time as much. Obviously they pose some threats, have some fast-paced players, break on transition. But I think for us it's more so focusing on what we can do. There's some things we have been able to pull out of these last couple of games and things we can work on. That's the most important thing. We've got a great game plan. We're in a good spot. We know we have to get it done."
Lloyd will get it done at her home stadium in the National Women's Soccer League. She and U.S. midfielder Morgan Brian plays for the Houston Dash.
"It's not summer time so it's not super hot, which is a good thing," she said. "But it's great to be back. Going out there and looking at the pitch, they laid down some new sod and it looks absolutely magnificent. For me as well as the other players, this is one of the top stadiums that teams really love to come to in the NWSL.
"I know I am really excited to be back. I felt like last year was a bit busy with the World Cup. So I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a great stadium. Hopefully it will be packed house out there."