U.S. women’s national team legend Carli Lloyd had some harsh words for the 2023 squad after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw against Portugal.
The two-time World Cup champion turned Fox Sports analyst called out the USWNT players and head coach Vlatko Andonovski after the “uninspiring” result, which left the defending champions as runners-up in Group E behind the Netherlands. The U.S. had won its 10 previous meetings against Portugal by a combined scoreline of 39-0.
“There’s been a shift within this team, within the federation, within the culture, the mentality,” Lloyd said on the postgame broadcast. “The importance and meaning of winning has changed. What has come from winning has become more important.”
After retiring from the national team in 2021, Lloyd made similar comments about the culture of the USWNT, which she mentioned again Tuesday. Lloyd won the 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles with the national team, and she remained with the team through the transition from Jill Ellis to Andonovski after the 2019 title.
“You never want to take anything for granted,” she said. “You put on that jersey, and you want to give it everything you have, for the people that came before you, for the people that are going to come after you. And I’m just not seeing that passion.
“I’m just seeing a very lackluster, uninspiring (group) taking it for granted, where winning and training and doing all that you can to be the best possible individual player is not happening.”
In particular, Lloyd took issue with the players’ seemingly relaxed conduct both before and after the scoreless draw. She pointed out players dancing before the match and then smiling and laughing after the final whistle.
“There’s a difference between confidence and arrogance, and I think there’s a fine line… It’s OK to be confident, but you never want to cross that line to being arrogant,” Lloyd said of the demeanor of the team heading into the group-stage finale.
And after the draw, which consigned the USWNT to second place in Group E and a tough road through the bracket, she pointed to a fiery Kelley O’Hara as an example for the team. O’Hara spoke animatedly to her teammates in the postgame huddle.
“Players are smiling. They’re laughing. It’s not good enough,” she said. “You need more Kelleys, and that’s the reason the team is in this situation right now. Because Kelley will say it how it is, whether players like it or not.”
As USWNT players greeted their family members and their fans with smiles, Lloyd offered further criticism.
“I have never witnessed something like that,” she said. “There’s a difference between being respectful to the fans and saying hello to your family, but to be dancing, to be smiling… I mean, the player of the match was that post. You are lucky to not be going home right now.”
As for Andonovski, Lloyd wanted to see better tactics, calling the team’s game plan “just too predictable and, really, just uninspiring.” And she wanted to see more passion.
“This group is a young team. I think they need a little bit of fire lit under them. I think they need a little bit of self-criticism,” she said. “And Vlatko Andonovski is not really that guy that does that.”
"There's a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family, but to be dancing and smiling..."@CarliLloyd on the USWNT after the match 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/38zm1eC76r— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 1, 2023
"There's a difference between being respectful of the fans and saying hello to your family, but to be dancing and smiling..."@CarliLloyd on the USWNT after the match 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/38zm1eC76r