Carli Lloyd: Unbelievable to live, train alongside Manchester City stars
MANAMA, Bahrain -- If Carli Lloyd doesn't get enough of a reminder that she's part of one of the world's best known soccer clubs while she's at work, her neighbors make it difficult to forget.
Lloyd, a World Cup winner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FIFA Player of the Year who is on a short-term deal with Manchester City's women's team, shares an apartment building with City stars like David Silva and Gabriel Jesus, as well as manager Pep Guardiola.
"I ran into Pep a few times on the elevator in our apartment complex," Lloyd said, adding that Guardiola had texted her good luck wishes as well.
"It's cool," she said. "They're just like us -- they like to do normal things. It's pretty unbelievable to have an opportunity to play and train where they do as well. ... It's a great organization. Everyone is wearing the same kit and everyone does the same thing and it's really like a family environment."
Lloyd is set to return to her NWSL team in Houston in early June, but before that she has several matches with City remaining, including Saturday's FA Cup final against Birmingham at Wembley.
Given the stakes of that match, Lloyd was grateful that the club allowed her to travel here for two days, where she is taking part in several FIFA Legends events ahead of FIFA's annual congress. On Tuesday, Lloyd joined Diego Maradona and Ronaldinho at a fan event held at a local shopping mall.
On Wednesday, she is scheduled to meet with FIFA officials and play in a casual tournament for teams composed of executives and legends.
Then she will be on a plane back to Manchester, where preparations for Saturday will already be underway.
"I've grown up watching the FA Cup and thinking to myself, how cool would it be to have an opportunity to compete in that," Lloyd told the club's website. "So being able to now compete in an FA Cup final at Wembley is pretty spectacular and not many Americans can say that they've been a part of that and I'm going to give it everything I've got for this team, and hopefully we can walk away as champions."
Lloyd will be playing at Wembley for the first time since she scored twice for the United States in their 2-1 Olympic final victory over Japan almost five years ago.
"I've got a very good visual memory of Wembley, from playing in front of 80,000 fans in 2012, and receiving the gold medal, so it's pretty exciting to be going back and competing for another final," she said in an interview on the club website.
In her interview here, Lloyd said she has not yet made a decision on whether she will play abroad again. Other top American players such as Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan have played for European clubs, and Lloyd said she has really enjoyed her experience.
As the 2019 Women's World Cup and 2020 Olympics draw closer, however, Lloyd knows that national team coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati prefer that their players stay nearby in the United States.
"It was definitely an opportunity to take now," Lloyd said. "The timing was right. As for the future? I'm just not sure."