US women ready for next stage of victory tour
SEATTLE (AP) Carli Lloyd finally dedicated 90 minutes, flipped open the laptop and watched herself score the fastest hat trick in World Cup history.
More than three months after that memorable performance in the Women’s World Cup final, Lloyd gave herself permission to watch the game for the first time during a flight last week.
”Honestly to be able to carve out 90 minutes of free time, if you want to call it that, where I could zone in and watch it and not have my phone there or anything to really get in the way I thought it was a great time to be able to watch it,” Lloyd said on Tuesday night as the U.S. women prepared for an exhibition match against Brazil.
Lloyd looking back on her record performance in the final against Japan just before the U.S. begins the next stage of its victory tour is an appropriate bookend. While the four games that have already taken place as part of the celebration tour came in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. victory, there has now been a gap of more than a month since the last matches against Haiti.
And in the mind of U.S. coach Jill Ellis, that means a slight change in what the remaining five games of the tour mean. While it remains a celebration of what was accomplished, Wednesday’s match against Brazil is also the starting point for looking ahead to the January training camp and the start of Olympic qualifying in February.
The U.S. will face Brazil in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and have three more matches in Hawaii from which Ellis will decide who is called in for the January camp.
”For me it’s about continuing our evaluation and realizing that this game is probably if not the best opponent we’ll face before we go into qualifiers. So it’s a valuable game for us,” Ellis said.
To that extent, Ellis called in eight additional players on top of the World Cup roster for the matches against Brazil, including NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn. Dunn is one of four added players that previously made national team appearances.
”The biggest thing I told them is you’ve been identified, you have a special quality. Come in and let’s see that special quality,” Ellis said.
The match in Seattle is also the farewell for midfielder Shannon Boxx, who will make her 195th and final appearance for the U.S. before retiring. Boxx made her first appearance with the national team in September 2003 and earned her way onto the World Cup roster after not playing in any matches in 2014 recovering from a knee injury suffered the previous year and the birth of her daughter in February 2014.
”Not too many athletes get the opportunity to end on their own terms,” Boxx said. ”I’m very, very fortunate to be able to say, `hey, I’m ready to be done,’ and to go out on top and not to have it be an injury that held me back or something that I would feel like I was cheated from or regret and I don’t regret anything. I love the fact I was able to come back.”