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Carli Lloyd says chance at Women’s World Cup history won’t fail USWNT: ‘It’s in the DNA’

Stop me if you’ve heard it before: The U.S. women’s national soccer team has a chance to make history at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

It’s been a major storyline for months as four teams have gone after each other defending their World Cup titles, but none have achieved the sacred three-peat.

With the Women’s World Cup kicking off in Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, the pressure is high on the USWNT, as clear favourites, to win it all again.

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Carli Lloyd attends the official brand launch of the FIFA World Cup 2026 at Griffith Observatory on May 17, 2023 in Los Angeles. (Caitlin Mulcahy/FIFA via Getty Images)

Despite the expectations, Carli Lloyd, a USWNT legend who helped win two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals during her illustrious career, believes the U.S. women will be calm and collected entering the big tournament.

“I’d say it’s business as usual,” Lloyd told Fox News Digital, promoting FanDuel’s support for the USWNT, teaming up with women-owned roastery, North Edge Craft Coffee, to launch FanFuel Extra Kick Coffee for the World Cup. “I would say America is always the favorite, the No. 1 team in the world. Everybody wants to go out there and beat them. They have a target on their back.”

“They’re probably not even talking about the three-peat or really talking about the history they could potentially make. Everyone just knows that. They know what’s at stake in the back of their minds.”

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Lloyd is preparing for the tournament in Sydney, where she is handling her broadcasting duties. She knows all too well that expectations can sometimes be high for the USWNT, especially as women’s soccer has grown exponentially in popularity since its first tournament in 2007.

But as Lloyd points out, that’s what these women play for: a chance to make their name in World Cup and USWNT history. It comes down to playing, and winning, one game at a time.

“You can’t get ahead of yourself because the moment you get ahead of yourself, that’s probably the moment where you’re going to get knocked out or something,” Lloyd said. “First and foremost is that they come out on top in their group. This will be their first battle. Then, once they hopefully do that, the next challenge will be to make sure they get past the first knockout round.”

When the U.S. takes the field for the first time Friday night (9 p.m. ET) against Vietnam at Eden Park in Oakland, New Zealand, there will be some who will be playing in their first World Cup match. But for USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe, it will be the first step toward her final World Cup representing the red, white and blue.

The winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or FĂ©minin as the world’s best female footballer has announced that this will be her last World Cup as the 38-year-old ends her football career. She was with Lloyd in 2015 and 2019 when they went back-to-back, and many key members of the squad, including Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx and Christie Rampone, have since walked off into the sunset.

Now, it’s Rapinoe’s turn.

Training by Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe of the United States takes a shot during USWNT training at Bay City Park on July 18, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

“Megan Rapinoe, I’ve just seen a lot of great moments, big goals,” Lloyd said, reflecting on his time as Rapinoe’s teammate. “What comes to mind is just her ability to help people, whether it’s a free kick or a cross or a corner kick, the level of creativity she brings to the team.”

“There’s no one like Megan Rapinoe. She’ll never be like Megan Rapinoe.”

Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz are among the superstars in the group that many fans will focus on on Friday’s kickoff. But Sophia Smith, the 22-year-old star of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Portland Thorns FC, is someone fans should get to know quickly when the tournament begins.

Smith led the USWNT in goals with 11 last year, and with her first World Cup here, this could be the moment she makes herself known to the world.

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Lloyd loves what Smith has done in the States, but she’s hoping to get her emotions and game under control as she prepares to play on her biggest stage yet.

“He’s separated himself from everyone,” Lloyd said. “She’s proven she can be a goal-scoring machine from different positions on the field. I never like to put too much pressure on people – I think there’s already pressure going into a big tournament. With Sofia being a young player, the world is putting pressure on her.”

“I hope she’s able to navigate that because it’s very difficult to go to a big tournament where the world is saying you’re going to be the next breakout star and all that stuff. I hope she can allow her mind to just focus on the task at hand, stay here and play freely. She’ll have a chance to really show what she’s made of on the world stage.” This is for his next jump.

Photo by Sophia Smith

Sophia Smith poses during the official portrait session of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on July 17, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Hannah Peters/FIFA via Getty Images)

Winning the World Cup, though, is about more than just a few players. It will take the entire roster working collectively on the field to take on each opponent, no matter the challenge.

Lloyd pointed out that defenders don’t get as much coverage until these big tournaments, which is why someone like Naomi Girma is the focus of his interest to play on Friday.

“He just has a very calm, cool, collected demeanor,” Lloyd said of Garma. “She looks very confident on the ball and is playing beyond her age. She seems to be an experienced player, so I’m excited to see her.”

As for the competition, the USWNT’s Group E opens with Vietnam, followed by the Netherlands on Wednesday and Portugal on August 1 to wrap up group play.

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“In their group, it’s the Netherlands,” Lloyd said of the USWNT’s biggest challenge in the group stage. “I don’t think the Netherlands 2019 is the Netherlands, nor the USA 2019, it’s a completely different match, but the USA don’t want to finish second in their group.”

“If they finish second in their group, they certainly have a big challenge down the road.”

History, individually and as a team, surrounds the USWNT at this World Cup. Still, Lloyd doesn’t believe outside noise or historical accomplishments will weaken the group.

Carli Lloyd poses with the World Cup trophy.

Carli Lloyd holds the Women’s World Cup trophy during the trophy promotion event on July 14, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images)

Just like the last two World Cups, through the highs and lows of each match, the goal is clear: hoist the trophy at the end.

And it doesn’t matter.

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“It’s in the team’s DNA to know that there’s always that pressure, and you want to thrive in the moment. I think they’ll be excited to finally get going and get that first game going.”

Source by [Fox News]

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