Carli Lloyd is working hard to get back on the pitch and has her goals set
It started like so many plays that Carli Lloyd has been part of as a central playmaker for the U.S. women’s national team: an intercepted pass, a fake-out move and dribbling up the center of the field. But when an Icelandic player shoved Lloyd to the ground from behind, it felt different.
“I went down and it was a really, really hard fall,” Lloyd recalled. “I actually heard some sort of crack.”
Her initial fear was a tendon tear with a long recovery time. “Best case scenario” was the news that doctors gave her, Lloyd said – she broke a bone in her shoulder, meaning she would join the inaugural NWSL season late, but with plenty of time to make an impact for her new team, the Western New York Flash.
Her goal is to join the Flash in time for their May 11 home game against FC Kansas City, as long as doctors give her the go-ahead at a May 7 evaluation.
Though, at eight weeks of downtime, her shoulder recovery is far quicker than the months-long ordeal she would’ve faced with a more serious injury, it’s still not easy for someone who makes it a point to train every day (and in the lead-up to the Olympics, six hours every day.)
“As soon as I found out it was broken, I had to completely shut down for four weeks. Really, the only thing I could do was ride a bike,” Lloyd said in a phone interview with NWSL News last week. “That was really hard.”
Lloyd, 30, has been there before. She broke her ankle in 2010 playing for Sky Blue FC and it taught her to be patient and accept her shoulder injury as another obstacle to overcome.
“You can’t rush back. Sometimes athletes think we have super powers, but it’s important to make sure everything’s healing and you slowly work your way back,” she said. “I was feeling good and I was playing well, but these things happen. These are the times that make me stronger.”
During the break, Lloyd has managed to launch a new website and organize a soccer camp not far from her hometown, Delran, N.J., which will be offered as a one-day session on July 27.
The camp will teach budding young soccer players ages 9-18 Lloyd’s training routine, including the same drills Lloyd has been doing since before she became a two-time gold medalist last summer.
“The drills that they’ll be doing is really the same stuff that I’m doing every day,” she said. “They’re younger and I’m an Olympian – it makes no difference. I’m still doing it.”
For Lloyd, offering the camp in her community is about being a role model and teaching youngsters “the importance of working hard” because, she said, “nothing comes easy and nothing will ever come easy unless you work for it.”
That attitude may come in handy as the NWSL season presses on. With national team duty, a short preseason and her injury, Lloyd has had no opportunity to train with the Flash, a team she listed as one of her three preseason allocation choices. The Flash has had a bit of a rough start, going winless in their first three matches, and will try to get their first win at home tonight against Sky Blue FC.
But, not one to shy away from a challenge, even from rehab in New Jersey, Lloyd is already setting her next goals.
For the Flash, she wants to fill the gaps where the team needs it and score goals to help them win games. Personally, Lloyd continues to set fitness goals only to break them, saying she was even more fit in Portugal for this spring’s Algarve Cup than she was during last summer’s Olympics.
By any measure, her career has been a successful one, but she insists she still has a long way to go.
“I still have to work hard. The end goal is I want to become FIFA Women’s Player of the Year,” Lloyd said, an honor her Flash teammate Abby Wambach won last year. “Some may laugh and think, ‘Wow, she’s crazy,’ but there’s no sense in dreaming to get to the top if you don’t think you can get there. There’s no point in putting a limit on yourself.”