PARIS — The U.S. women’s national team has four days between its first and second World Cup matches. The players are using that time to rest, recover and prepare for Chile.
But if it were up to U.S. veteran Carli Lloyd, they would play again immediately.
“Yeah, I’d actually like to play tomorrow. I think all of us would,” Lloyd, 36, said during a news conference Friday before the first training session in Paris. “This window right now is four days in between, so it’s tough, ya know? But as you get deeper into the tournament, which we hope we do, those days are gonna come in handy for rest days. If you’ve got a game every couple of days, it might wear on you a bit. We’re definitely ready to go for the next one.”
Lloyd recalled a stretch of five days during the 2015 Women’s World Cup, between a 1-0 U.S. win over Nigeria to close out the group stage June 16 and a 2-0 Round of 16 victory June 22 against Colombia.
She won’t have to go that long between games at all this time around.
Three days separate Sunday’s Chile game and the final U.S. group stage match Thursday against Sweden. The latter game is in Le Havre, which is a 2.5-hour drive from Paris, about an hour longer than it took to get to the nation’s capital from Reims earlier this week.
After that, it’s another three days between matches — if the U.S. finishes first in its group, which is likely after the 13-0 victory over Thailand, and continues to win — until the semifinal. Then there would be four days between the semifinal and July 7 final in Lyon.
While Lloyd spoke, teammate Mallory Pugh, 21, sat next to her, listening and nodding her head.
“Yeah, I just want to play,” Pugh said.
“She’s also half my age,” Lloyd responded with a laugh.
Lloyd is playing in her fourth World Cup and said she’s found a balance between what works and doesn’t. What works is mainly “doing her own thing.”
Lloyd is known for not allowing family or friends to attend major events, and this World Cup is no different. Unlike some of her teammates, Lloyd doesn’t have her parents or husband, Brian, visiting in Paris (though she did save two tickets for anyone who may want to attend the semifinal or final).
“I’m not a superstitious person. Your preparation is what prepares you, what instills confidence,” Lloyd said, going on to explain that her decision is based purely on a formula that works to keep her focused instead of worrying about whether family is having fun or feeling guilty for not spending enough time with them. “I don’t have to worry about ’em at all, and it’s fantastic.”
Lloyd may say she’s not superstitious, but she did note a trend in results when she’s had family attend World Cups or Olympics.
“2007, I had my parents and Brian there. We didn’t win. 2011, I had aunts, cousins, Brian there. We did not win. 2008, we won. I had nobody there. 2012, We won. I had nobody there,” Lloyd said, laughter increasing throughout the room as she continued. “2015, I had nobody there. So, keeping it the same in 2019.”
“That’s a good idea,” Pugh cut in.
So, Lloyd’s alone time includes getting treatment from the support staff, massages or simply taking a walk.
“Ya know, it’s not too glamorous,” she said. “I’m pretty focused most of the time, but there’s also a balance of kind of shutting off the mind a little bit, but then as the games approach, making sure you’re mentally focusing on that.”