World’s Best Player
When one speaks of women’s soccer, Carli Lloyd needs no introduction. Not only has she made a mark in American women’s national soccer, but has made a name for herself in the landscape of international soccer is is currently the World’s Best Player. It was only inevitable that at some point, a great such a Lloyd would look to carve a name for herself across the pond (or ocean), by signing up with FAWSL side, Manchester City Women FC on a short term contract.
Although this marks the beginning of Llyod’s journey with Manchester City, the team is already well into the current season and giving stellar performances. The team is the only remaining English club left in the UEFA Champions League and is sitting on top of the Women’s Super League 1. Now that the club has successfully advanced past the infamous Round of 16, a two leg battle against Fortuna Hjørring stands between it and the next stage of the illustrious competition. The Danish club has already won the Champions League back in the 2002-2003 season.
In addition to being a huge personal achievement, Carli Llyod stands of the cusp of the opportunity to make soccer history for women and Americans in general. For decades, members of the media and spectators have pegged various players as being able to “make it” in the European leagues. There have been rather a number of American players signed to European clubs such as Tim Howard who played for Manchester United; some of Llyod’s USWNT comrades are currently playing for other European clubs, such as Lyon and Arsenal and many other American footballers who played in Europe. Despite this, American soccer audience has, thus far, been deprived of seeing an American star join a European club and really becoming a club legend.
As much as Llyod is an asset on any team, it has been a privilege for her to play for Manchester City Women FC. The legendary English club, founded back in 1988 had some of it’s most successful periods back in the early 2000s when many of the youth teams affiliated with the club as well as the professional squad were all regularly winning their respective leagues. In recent years, the club had a bit of a downturn, becoming seeming permanent residents of the bottom of the FA Women’s Super League table in the 2010s. The 2015 season saw a revitalization of the club’s winning ways. That season, which included a 13-match winning streak, the club remained title contenders up until the final day of the season.
Manchester City Women has advanced farther than any other English club in the Champions League this season. If Carli Llyod can lead the club to a Champions League title, she will go down in club history. Especially considering that Llyod is a forward, she will not simply be a member of a winning club. If this hypothetical victory does occur, she will likely be the reason it happens. That will be the first time for an American soccer player to go to Europe, be an integral member of a squad, and take a leadership role in her club winning a major international title.
If Llyod can pull it off, she will open many doors for American soccer players of all gender. She will help remove the persistentstereotype that American socce is somehow inferior to soccer in other parts of the world, and it will prove that American soccer players are just as good as any other player.
Llyod must work quickly to assimilate into her new club because she is on a short-term contract. Like other NWSL players, Llyod has taken used this unusually long offseason, due to the league’s transition from a summer season to a spring one, as an opportunity to ply her trade elsewhere without permanently leaving the Houston Dash, her domestic club. Llyod has expressed that she views her move to Manchester as an opportunity to gain new experiences. While she has not ruled anything out, she has expressed her desire to remain in the NWSL and be a part of the league’s continued growth and improvement.
Make no mistake about it. This isn’t some kind of vacation for Carli Llyod. She has already proven her dedication to her new club by using the time that was supposed to be her offseason vacation to travel to England early and train. This shows that stellar performance is obviously important to her.
Carli Llyod may be carrying the hopes of American soccer on her back, but, if anyone can pull it off, she certainly can. As was seen in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Mrs. Llyod’s has a level of skill and athleticism that makes even opposers of women’s soccer sit back and pay attention.