Two-time Olympic gold medalist Carli Lloyd recently explained why she stood for the national anthem as the rest of the U.S. soccer team took a knee during the bronze-medal match of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and further criticized former teammate Megan Rapinoe for her “distracting” kneeling stunt.
Lloyd, a legend in women’s soccer, retired in 2021. During her career, the former striker was a major player in securing two World Cup championships, two Olympic golds, and was twice named FIFA Player of the Year.
“In that moment, we were kneeling — it was right before kickoff, so it wasn’t necessarily like a protest per se, but I guess everybody in the English Premier league was just taking a knee before kickoff,” Lloyd explained to CBS Sports, earlier this month. “So we had done it every game, and I knew that was going to be my last world championship game, so I wanted to stand.”
The soccer star said she was “sure” her decision to be the only player to stand for the anthem communicated something to viewers, and added, “I just thought that, we had done enough of the kneeling, and I just wanted to stand at my last world championship game.”
Lloyd also took on Rapinoe for kneeling during 2016 games, which she said was a distraction for the team.
“I had conversations with Megan [Rapinoe] — like, this isn’t a personal thing,” the athlete said. “What she’s doing, it was distracting our team, it was distracting others to play.”
“I was a captain at that time as well, so I said to her, it’s not to dampen what you’re trying to achieve with it — it just became, everything was focused on Megan kneeling and nobody was talking about the reasoning why, is what I was trying to get at,” Lloyd explained. “And so I had conversations with Megan during that. And every game we rolled up to, it was the camera to her, but no one’s talking about actually what the messaging was about, it was just, she’s kneeling and no one else is kneeling.”
This summer, Lloyd, newly retired, criticized the U.S. women’s team for dancing and smiling after barely advancing at the World Cup with a 0-0 tie against Portugal, thanks in large part to the goalpost blocking a would-be goal for Portugal.
“There’s a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family,” she blasted, according to the New York Post. “But to be dancing, to be smiling — I mean, the player of the match was that post. You were lucky to not be going home right now.”
“I spoke up in that room, and I told them that you can’t take anything for granted — you have to work for everything that you get,” Lloyd said she told the women’s team.
“I just talked about what the mentality of this team has been about and passed down from generation to generation,” the athlete continued. “But the problem is when you win, and you get things, winning has taken on a different meaning. It is no longer we want to win because we want to win. No, we want everything that comes with winning, and we think we can just roll out and win games.”
“Teams see that,” Lloyd added. “They see the arrogance in the U.S. and see that they’re not this unstoppable team. They see that they’re able to be broken down and beaten.”
And last year, Lloyd criticized the degrading “culture” of the national team since 2015.
“The culture for me is what the culture has been on the national team since the inception,” she told Insider. “All of those players, they brought a fight. They brought a hunger. They brought a desire. They brought mentality. They brought a never-say-die attitude. They brought finding a way, whether it’s the 91st minute, to get a ball in the back of the net. That has slowly dissipated from 2015 on.”