Book excerpt: 'When Nobody was Watching' by Carli Lloyd
Olympic and World Cup champion Carli Lloyd released her memoir, "When Nobody Was Watching" on Monday, detailing her early days as a player, the strained relationship she has with her family and her rise to the top of the sport with the help of trainer James Galanis. She talked to espnW about the book, and shared this excerpt about the day that led up to the 2015 World Cup final. In what would become the most memorable game of her career, Lloyd scored three goals and helped the U.S. team win its first World Cup title since 1999. But first, she had to make it to kickoff time.
YOU KNOW HOW JAMES WOULD ALWAYS TELL ME, "Play every game as if it's a World Cup final"? He doesn't have to say a thing on July 5, 2015, because I am in BC Place in Vancouver, and it is a World Cup final. The stadium is on the north side of False Creek, an inlet that separates downtown from the rest of the city, and it is inundated with true USA soccer fans who are hoping to see the first happy ending to a World Cup since 1999.
I have my own room for the final, on the twenty-fourth floor of the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre, and everything is great the night before except that I keep waking up. I am thinking about the game, dreaming about the game. I don't visualize scoring five goals in the final, the way I did a few months earlier during a training session on Ark Road, but the game is in my head nonstop. I am so ready to play that my heart is racing, and I don't know how I am going to make it until the 5:00 PM kickoff. We have three team meals before the game, and each time we gather all I can think is, Can't we just play already?
I have so much energy I don't know what to do with it. After breakfast I go for my fifteen-minute jog through downtown. Some people recognize me and wave and wish me good luck. I smile and wave back and keep going. I feel as though I could run for days. I organize everything in my room into tidy piles -- the keepsakes and the Player of the Match frames and the clothes I bought on the James-ordered shopping trip. I am the same neat freak on the day of a World Cup final as I was as a schoolgirl back on Black Baron Drive.
One of our massage therapists stretches me out, and after a bite of lunch I hydrate and stretch some more and relax in the room with my headphones on. I've done most of my visualization the night before, but I get some more done throughout the day, not focusing on results so much as the process of playing the game... tackling hard, sending passes near and far, being strong in the attacking third.
Finally, it is almost time to leave for the game. I look down from my window and see a big crowd of fans lining the barricaded walkway we'll take to get on our bus. There are hundreds of them, waiting to give us a proper send-off. We meet in the lobby and then walk through a gauntlet of rousing cheers and waving flags and choruses of the "I believe that we will win" chant that has swept through our fan base. I am filming it on my phone, smiling as I go. It is a very cool spectacle. I board the bus and go to my spot, second row from the back on the right. Once again it's time to cue up "Dreamer" on my iPod and reread James's final World Cup email.
Here's what he writes:
I have spent a lot of time reflecting and the thing that sticks out the most to me is that you are once again going into this final as the best Carli Lloyd there ever was.
You have broken barriers again and gone to a level that no one was expecting and are on the brink of shocking the world again.
Today you will rise again because:
1) Apart from being the best Carli Lloyd ever, you are going into this game loaded with a mental state that no one else is carrying and the only player with a body that can carry an entire team.
2) Because you are going into this game knowing you haven't achieved anything yet and you will once again fight like an underdog that never gives up and claws her way to the top.
3) Because tactically you are playing in a position that allows you to express yourself and get into positions to win the game all on your own.
4) Because the Japanese rely on shapes rather than pressure and this will allow you to showcase the marvelous skill you possess and stick a dagger into the folks that dared to call you unskilled.
5) Because you are the only player that can take a game and own it.
6) Because you are the most intimidating and feared player on the planet and the Japanese know it.
Time to make this yours. Time to show the world that there is only one Ms. Lloyd.
As usual start simple and build. Play your game and act like the midfielder that you are. Combine, dribble, shoot, get on the end of crosses and get back and admirably help out on defense. A fighting and involved Carli Lloyd will get to the Japanese. You will make them fold and take over.
There will be no denying you if the underdog shows up again and owns this game. Go make this yours. You deserve it.
Reading over it again, I am filled with fresh gratitude for what my mentor/friend/trainer has done for me. James believed in me long before I did.
How do you thank somebody for that?
[Coach Jill Ellis] sticks with the same lineup as the Germany game. I will be wearing the captain's armband again, along with my usual Nike Mercurial Vapor Super Fly boots, with the words five pillars -- the motto of the University Soccer Academy -- written on the side of each. When we go over set plays beforehand, Jill says that the first corner will be one that has been designed for me. Assistant Tony Gustavsson is in charge of the set pieces, and he is the architect of it. We practiced it only one time, but it cleverly creates a formation that spreads the Japanese defense out. I think it has a real chance to work.
Jill huddles us up before we take the BC Place field. One of her best qualities as a coach is how straightforward she is. We're grown women, and we know what's in front of us. Jill honors that. She says simply, "We started this journey to get to this very point. You know what you need to do. There isn't much else to say. We are ready. Let's bring this trophy back home. Go out there, have fun, and enjoy it."
Excerpted from WHEN NOBODY WAS WATCHING: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World by Carli Lloyd with Wayne Coffey. Copyright 2016 by Carlilloyd.com LLC. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.