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EDP Soccer's Women's World Cup Wrap-Up

By Michael Lewis, 07/19/19, 8:00AM EDT

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For the second time in four years, Carli Lloyd found herself at the podium talking to a captive audience at City Hall after another ticker-tape parade in New York City on Wednesday, July 10.
 
Only four days prior, the U.S. national team had become only the second side in history to win back-to-back Women's World Cup championships. The Delran, N.J. native played a role in both titles.
 
"Let me say this first. I've got 22 of the best-est friends right behind me," Lloyd, NJ Youth Soccer's latest ambassador, said at last week's USWNT victory parade. "And I'm feeling like the old granny a little bit because I'm always telling them to turn the music down.
 
"This is incredible. ... We were here four years ago. It never gets old. These parades are amazing."
 
Lloyd, who played for and still trains with her youth club the Medford Strikers, was one of three players from now EDP-affiliated clubs who came through the US Youth Soccer system in both club & ODP and made an impact for the Americans in their record fourth World Cup triumph. The others were goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher (South Central Premier; Stratford, Conn.) and forward Tobin Heath (PDA Wildcats; Basking Ridge, N.J.).
 
In fact, 21 of the 23 players featured on the US Women's National Team World Cup squad have represented their state associations as members of the  US Youth Soccer ODP Program.
 
Immediately after the USA defeated the Netherlands in Lyon, France on July 7, Lloyd echoed similar sentiments ahead of the tournament last year, and admitted she did not know whether this competition was her swan song in top-flight international tournaments. The hero of the 2015 World Cup with that unforgettable hat-trick in the 5-2 triumph over Japan in the final wasn't used as much as she would have liked to by head coach Jill Ellis. She had been relegated to the role as a super-sub, for the most part.


Lloyd, who turned 37 on July 16, still scored three goals in only 194 minutes over seven matches. As a starter, she tallied twice in a 3-0 group-stage win over Chile.
 
"It's been a really tough couple of years," Lloyd said. "It’s not based on my ability. For whatever reasons, coaches made the decision. I try to put up a good case. So, I'm going to go home, kind of let the emotions die down a bit, speak to my husband, and we'll go from there."
 
Next year the U.S. will try to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
 
Regardless, Lloyd's legacy is quite secure. She is the only player to have scored the winning goal in back-to-back Olympic gold medal matches (2008, 2012). She also is the only player -- man or woman -- to have scored a goal in six consecutive World Cup matches.
 
Naeher entered the World Cup with a big question mark on her back, given that she was replacing a legend in Hope Solo, who backstopped the Americans to the 2015 title and to a pair of Olympic gold medals. She left with a giant exclamation point, especially after what transpired in the dramatic 2-1 semifinal victory over England in Lyon on July 2.
 
The 31-year-old Naeher's first big save of the tournament came in the 33rd minute when she produced a two-handed diving save on Keira Walsh's shot from distance only two minutes after Alex Morgan had given the USA a 2-1 edge.
 
With the U.S. clinging to that same lead in the 84th minute, England was awarded a penalty kick. Steph Houghton fired her shot to the lower left corner. Naeher read it perfectly and snared the attempt.
 
“There wasn’t really much going through my mind, to be honest. I kind of blacked out for a second," Naeher said on Good Morning America. "I just felt calm. Everyone seemed calm, everyone felt calm. And I think that was just — I feed off of this team’s energy and incredible teammates and just there was never a doubt in my mind that it was not going to go in. And that’s what I felt and was able to come up with it.”
 
Immediately after the game, Ellis put Naeher's contributions to the team into proper perspective.
 
"She has been my No. 1," she said. "There is a theme of the tournament, 'Dare to shine.' So, I said to my players the other day, 'We're going to add to that, dare to shine the brightest.' I said to her she shone tonight. She was the brightest.
 
"People are starting to see glimpses of what I see every day in training. She is making her own mark and creating her own legacy."
 
As for Heath, she just might have been more elusive off the pitch than on it, as far as the media was concerned. After matches, the 31-year-old forward walked through the mixed zone without stopping to talk to the media. The mixed zone is an area underneath the stadium in which players are interviewed by the media.
 
Still, when she did talk, Heath did have her moments.
 
In a rare press conference for Heath before the quarterfinal confrontation with France, the former PDA standout talked about the USA"s preparations.
 
"I think overall the team has been extremely professional," she said. "Everyone knows exactly what they need to be doing. Everybody has been responding really well, taking great care of themselves. So, there's not a whole lot that needs to be said. Everybody has been shown along the way what it takes to be at this level."
 
At the same press conference, when a French TV commentator pleaded with the veteran forward to let France defeat the USA, Heath gave a succinct deadpanned response, "No."
 
Lloyd, Naeher and Heath have returned to their respective clubs -- Sky Blue FC, the Chicago Red Stars and the Portland Thorns -- for the remainder of the National Women's Soccer League season.
 
It should be a pretty busy several months for the trio as the U.S. will embark on a five-game victory tour.
 
The first game is set against the Republic of Ireland in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Aug. 3. The team also will play matches on Aug. 29, Sept. 3, Oct. 3 and Oct. 6. Opponents will be announced soon.

To learn more about the US Women's National Team players from the EDP region, follow the links below:

Carli Lloyd, Forward (Delran Township, New Jersey) — Youth Soccer in NJ & Bringing Another World Cup Home

Andi Sullivan, Midfielder (Lorton, Virginia) — An Emerging Women's National Team Star & DC-Area Youth Soccer Success Story

Crystal Dunn, Defender/Midfielder (New Hyde Park, New York) — USWNT Star & NY-Native Shows Versatility Is Key

Stay tuned for more from the US Women's National Team...