By Mary Cunningham
South Jersey’s Carli Lloyd has become a soccer legend, and she said good-bye to her international career in style in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a 6-0 win over South Korea.
Lloyd, who memorably scored three goals in the opening 16 minutes of the U.S. victory in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, is hanging up the boots after a decorated career that includes two World Cup titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals.
“It’s been emotional. But there’s just a sense of peace and contentment that I feel — it’s just joy and happiness,” Lloyd said. “It’s been an amazing journey and I gave it all I had, and now I can walk away into the next chapter.”
Lloyd, 39, ranks second in the world for most-ever international appearances after having played in 315 career games. She has scored 134 goals with the U.S., third most in the history of the women’s team.
“Somebody said that Carli is the U.S. women’s national team. She’s brave. She’s relentless. She’s determined, intense and just doesn’t take no for an answer,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “She just pushes through and finds a way. So I think that she’s a great representative of what this team is all about.”
She became the first American to score in four different Olympics, and her 10 total goals in the event set a new record among U.S. players.
Lloyd’s teammates made sure she went out in style after the U.S. and South Korea tied 0-0 on Thursday to end the Americans’ 22-game home winning streak. The victory Tuesday extended the home unbeaten streak to 62 (56 wins, six ties).
Lindsey Horan opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a deflected shot off a South Korean player. An own goal made it 2-0 in the 45th minute.
Lloyd left in the 66th minute to a standing ovation. She hugged her teammates, took off her shoes, gave the captain’s arm band to Megan Rapinoe and peeled off her No. 10 “Lloyd” jersey to reveal a No. 10 with “Hollins” for her husband Brian Hollins before exiting the field.
Alex Morgan replaced Lloyd and scored her 115th career goal three minutes later. Rapinoe made it 4-0 in the 85th minute with her 62nd score. Rose Lavelle (89th minute) and Lynn Williams (92nd) completed the scoring.
“I’m excited to see the future of this team. I’m saying goodbye on the field, but I want to continue to help in any way possible,” Lloyd said. “I’m going to be the biggest fan, biggest cheerleader, and I want to see this team continue to succeed.”