Carli Lloyd is heading back to the World Cup, not as a player, but as part of FOX’s broadcast crew. She discusses what to expect from Australia.
You can’t have a serious conversation about women’s soccer without mentioning Carli Lloyd. Fans of the United States Women’s National Team were introduced to the legendary midfielder when she made her senior-level debut in July 2005. When the former NJ/NY Gotham FC star hung up her cleats for good in 2021, she left with two Olympic gold medals, a bronze medal, two FIFA Women’s World Cup wins, and countless other accolades to solidify herself as one of the best to ever lace up for the red, white, and blue.
These days, Lloyd is contributing her vast knowledge of the sport as an analyst with FOX Sports. The now-40-year-old remains a vital part of growing the game for women stateside, and it shows in her partnerships. Ahead of this month’s Women’s World Cup, Lloyd joined other current and retired USWNT greats in a commercial for Frito-Lay, where she plays a digitized version of herself.
Carli Lloyd spoke to Boardroom about her decision to take part in the ad, who she’s most looking forward to watching play in a couple of weeks, and her favorite World Cup memory off the turf.
VINCIANE NGOMSI: You’ve been a citizen of the game for so long, and with that comes great opportunities to work with so many different brands. How do you choose who best aligns with your career, and why was Frito-Lay a good fit?
CARLI LLOYD: I think first and foremost it has to feel authentic to me. I thought the Frito-Lay commercial before the FIFA Men’s World Cup was really awesome. So I was really thrilled to be part of this ad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. And I think what I love about it most is I’ve never really been part of a commercial that has bridged former players and legends of the game like Mia Hamm, Brianna Scurry, and Brandy Chastain. Obviously, I played around the same time as Abby Wambach and against Marta and Christine Sinclair. This was just a really fun lighthearted spot to be in.
I get to play a broadcasting role, which obviously translates to what I’ll be doing for FOX Sports in Sydney. And then I play an animated version of myself, which was created using a 3D body scanning technology, which was pretty cool. All of the featured players just showcase how far the game has come. It’s amazing that Frito-Lay incorporated past players that have really helped make the game what it is today. I think brands are taking more interest in highlighting women. This is going to be the biggest, the best, and most competitive FIFA Women’s World Cup we’ve seen.
VN: You said you were inspired to play for the women’s team after attending the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. You accomplished that, and now you’re heading Down Under in a different capacity. You’re obviously still representing Team USA, but it’s nothing like you’ve done before. Will that feeling of being in the booth be comparable to playing on the pitch?
CL: Yeah, I’m sure I’m going to get chills when that opening match kicks off. I think I read there’s a sell-out of around 81,000 people going to it. I’m getting chills now just thinking about it. To think about 2007 being my first World Cup and now to 2023, just the growth that has happened is truly inspiring. The 1999 Women’s World Cup changed my life. It gave me the belief, it gave me the ability to dream big, and it gave me the motivation to say this is possible. And so those women that played, they had such an impact on myself and so many others. And I’ve gotten to be part of the national team for 17 years and myself and some of my former teammates have been that inspiration to the generation that’s coming up.
When I put on the USA jersey and took the field, at times we were playing with maybe 5,000 fans in the crowd. Then at times playing with 83,000 supporters. But what comes to mind is such amazing pride to be representing your country when you hear the national anthem. There’s nothing better than that feeling. So many players want to win a World Cup, and it’s so extremely hard to do that. I’m going to be able to, I think, enjoy this World Cup. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy all my other World Cups, but it’s a different mindset.
VN: Who among the first-time players on the USWNT has the potential to etch their name in the history books this month?
CL: There are 14 out of the 23 players that have never played in a World Cup for Team USA. So they’re going to be stepping out on that field with so much pressure as it is. But then to know that they’ve never played in a World Cup, there’s going be nerves and that’s going to be normal. But I think the likes of Naomi Girma in the center-back position is a young player to highlight. I mean Sophia Smith has just been crushing it for her club right now, scoring goals and playing well for the Portland Thorns. Then there’s Trinity Rodman, Alyssa Thompson. They’re doing it at the club level, but this is the world’s biggest and best stage. It’s a whole different ballgame. So it’s going to be really interesting to see what players can rise to the challenge. I’m sure there are going to be names we may not even mention throughout the tournament, and then a new star is going to emerge. That can be life-changing for that player.
VN: Outside of the USWNT, who are the other countries you’re looking forward to watching play?
CL: You know, I think there are probably a few teams that can win the World Cup. You always have the likes of Germany and England is obviously going in as potential favorites. I think Brazil is going to do better than maybe people anticipate. I’ve played for [Brazil national team manager] Pia Sundhage before, she coached me for a number of years. I think she’s just implemented more organization and more structure. Brazil has a lot of players in the NWSL right now and they’re playing really well. And this is, I think, Marta’s last World Cup. So I would imagine they’re going to really be not only playing for their country but playing to help Marta win a World Cup because she’s been an exceptional player for so long.
I think France is probably going to pose a threat as well. They went through a coaching change and [Hervé Renard] coached the Saudi Arabia men’s national team in Qatar last year. I think he’s going to instill some belief and overall camaraderie within the squad. We can’t discredit Australia, they’re playing on home soil. I think the key for any team is going to be limiting injuries and having to come together at the right moment to be firing on all cylinders.
VN: What’s a World Cup memory that remains poignant in your mind that doesn’t necessarily have to do with actually playing?
CL: I would say during the 2015 World Cup, the hotel that we were staying in Vancouver was a huge tower. I was up on a really high floor when I looked out of my window, I just saw endless people lined up watching us get onto the bus, all red, white, and blue. And then as we got on the bus to make our way to the stadium, which wasn’t too far away, the streets were covered in people walking in red, white, and blue. I remember looking out my window, on the bus, with my music on, and it got me fired up to get out onto that pitch and play with my teammates. We were just in such an incredible position to bring home that World Cup. It was amazing to see the support and just all of the people that came to watch. I’ll always remember that.
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