With their semi-final win over Canada on Monday, USA have now reached the final at each of the five Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments held to date. Moreover, they have only once had to settle for silver, against Norway in 2000. “It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it,” said Carli Lloyd in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com just hours after victory.
So what’s the secret to the team’s success? “We fight till the death and never give up. What’s more, we don’t change our attitude and, come what may, we find a way to win out,” the USA midfielder revealed.
It was this very spirit that allowed the Stars and Stripes to reach the final of London 2012 after spectacularly defeating Canada 4-3 courtesy of Alex Morgan’s header in the dying seconds of extra time. “We treated the Canada game as if it were a final. Yes you could look back at the stats and see they hadn’t beaten us since 2001, but all that mattered was today, and Canada put up a tremendous fight.
"I think it’s been a great lesson for all of us. You just cannot take any opponent lightly,” said the 30-year-old. With her wonderful vision and fine distribution in midfield, not to mention a fondness for mid-range shooting, it comes as no surprise to learn that her footballing idol is the Spanish star Xavi.
Despite going behind on three occasions, the defending champions kept their composure against the Canucks and saw their efforts come good. “We’d already come from two-down against France in our opening game, so it was nothing new for us. We knew the goals would come as we were creating chances. We believed in ourselves. At first it seemed we only needed to score once to get back on terms, but in the end we had to do it four times. I mean seven goals in one game. Madness!” she said.
“By the end we were exhausted and trying to find Abby (Wambach) with balls into the area. But it was Alex [who would score in the end]. It may not have been the most beautiful header of all time, but it was good enough to beat the keeper and was fantastic. It was a relief not to have to face penalties,” Lloyd admitted.
The USA ladies will now spend the next few days in London and are delighted to be closer to the heart of the action. “The Games begin again for us now as we can finally soak up the Olympic atmosphere of London. We’re going to enjoy it to the max,” said Lloyd.
This Thursday evening, Wembley Stadium will be at its best as it hosts a re-run of the last FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Final. On that occasion, Pia Sundhage’s charges lost out in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, with Lloyd among those who failed to convert. “We’re intent on getting revenge, and this time we’re not leaving without the gold medal,” the player told FIFA.com.
Since that unforgettable clash in Frankfurt, the teams have crossed swords on three occasions. At the Algarve Cup in March, the Nadeshiko prevailed 1-0, before drawing 1-1 in Sendai in April and going down 4-1 to the North Americans in another friendly in Halmstad, Sweden, in June. “We’ve already seen how they’re performing here. I think we need to concentrate on playing our game and pressurise them a lot. It won’t be easy but it will be a great opportunity for us to get revenge,” insisted Lloyd.
Four years ago in Beijing, Lloyd played a key part in the gold-medal winning campaign, scoring the only goal of the final in extra time against Brazil. “It was an incredible moment and I wish I could experience that kind of thing again. But how we win and who scores doesn’t matter. The most important thing is just to win. That said, I’m ready to do it all again if necessary,” she concluded with a sparkle in her eyes.