Lloyd leaves her mark on history
USA won bronze medal in seven-goal thriller
Carli Lloyd scores double and smashes records
Lloyd: "My husband is keen to see me stop"
"I didn't know that. That's cool!" This was Carli Lloyd's reaction after being told by FIFA.com that she has scored on each occasion an Olympic medal has been at stake.
It is an impressive record, and one that began in 2008, when she hit the only goal in the final against Brazil during extra time. Four years later, she struck twice to claim gold for USA against Japan.
In Kashima on Thursday, Lloyd once again spurred the Stars and Stripes on to a medal – bronze this time, with her two goals helping make the difference against the Matildas. "I like raising my game in finals and I like to lead by example," explained the 39-year-old. "The team needed that today."
In addition to scoring twice, Lloyd also won her 312nd cap to go second on USA's - and the world's - all-time list behind Kristine Lilly (354). A fitting way, perhaps, for her to end her illustrious career, though she refused to be drawn on her future despite a barrage of enquiries from reporters. "It's a question that's been there in my head, but I've always wanted to be the one who makes that decision," she said. "Not the media, not the coaches. I'll take the time to think about it when I'm back home. Physically, I feel very good, but the time comes when you have to hang up your boots and get back to normal life. "I know my husband is keen to see me stop," joked the veteran, named The Best FIFA Women's Player in 2015 and 2016. "I've thought about it. The journey to the stadium was different than usual. I thought about a lot of things, but above all I wanted to help this team win a medal. "I scored two goals tonight but none before this game. As a forward, that makes you think and wonder what more you can do to help the team. You just have to stay confident in those moments and tell yourself the ball will end up going in. It's great to win trophies and medals, but what interests me is always to give my very best. That's been difficult, but in the end you get your reward."
The only USA player to score in four different Women's Olympic Football Tournaments, Lloyd chose the perfect time to open her account at Tokyo 2020, where her side had struggled to assert themselves. "We took a knock in our first match against Sweden, and we never really managed to get going after that," she said. "We were missing that mentality, that solidarity which makes us fight for one another. "When you win a lot, it's tough to hit top gear and maintain the motivation to improve. That's why winning a World Cup and then following up with victory in the Olympics is so difficult. We lost ourselves a bit. Mentality, combativeness, willpower… I don't know what we were lacking the most, but perhaps the way this tournament went will help us to realise how important that mindset is. "On paper, we're still the best team in the world, but talent alone doesn't bring you medals. For the medals I've won, and all the World Cups, we weren't necessarily the best team, but we had the best mentality and we fought the hardest. That's what we were able to show today." Nobody knows which way Lloyd will lean when she comes to assess her future, but she and Megan Rapinoe will always be remembered as the leading lights of USA's triumphs at Canada 2015 and France 2019.
And perhaps just as crucially, they have also shown the way forward as the Stars and Stripes look to renew themselves in time to defend their world title and aim for gold in 2023 - and at Paris 2024.