How Carli Lloyd Became The Best Soccer Player In The World
U.S. women's national team midfielder Carli Lloyd credits her trainer of 13 years, James Galanis, with much of her success, and with seeing greatness in her far before she was able to see it in herself. The power duo spoke on the final day of the espnW Women + Sports Summit about their relationship and to share behind-the-scenes moments from one of the most memorable World Cup performances in U.S. history.
We jotted down five of our favorites.
They started with the fundamentals. "I saw a player who was getting by on her potential," Galanis said. "I said to myself, 'She is going to go to waste because she doesn't have the right habits.' Physically, she was very weak, mentally she wasn't as competitive as she should have been and her character as far as being coachable wasn't great. But I saw her skill and movement without the ball. I knew the U.S. national team was lacking players like her. I just needed to improve the other three areas. I told her she could go all the way. I said, 'You can go on and become the best player in the world.' She didn't believe me."
Training is a constant challenge. "I have to create an environment that will make her uncomfortable, but by the end of the session, she has to be comfortable," Galanis said. "The next day, I make the workout a little bit harder. The only way you can do that is by continuously creating new environments and constantly breaking barriers ... After the World Cup, my goal was to make her feel like a rec player."
The World Cup had major highs -- and lows. "This World Cup, those first three games in group play, I was at an all-time career low in confidence," Lloyd said. "After the first game, my teammates and I didn't feel like ourselves. By the third game after Nigeria, I had to dig out of it, deep. I didn't feel like I was contributing. James was in Greece vacationing with his family. I called him and he was like, 'Go to the mall, stop thinking about soccer.' He said, 'No one is going to remember what you did in the group games. You have an opportunity to change how this tournament goes. Roll up your sleeves in the knockout rounds and change this tournament.'"
Success tasted sweet, and was short-lived."Winning the World Cup was a dream come true after so many years of wanting something so bad," Lloyd said. "After that final whistle, I dropped to the ground on my knees and got emotional. After I found my phone in the locker room, I gave James a call. I was like, 'I just won a World Cup. But I'm not stopping.' The success had just come and I wanted more. I want another World Cup."
She could have done more. "I watched the game yesterday for the first time," said Lloyd, "I did miss two more goals that I could have put in the back of the net. That kept me hungrier. I had a conversation with James a couple weeks after the game. James was like, 'You know, you coulda scored five goals.' He's right. I could have, on that header and another in the second half. His son was in the car with him and he was like, 'Dad, she scored a hat trick in the World Cup final. She did all right.' He said, 'Yes. But she could have scored five goals.'"