Former United States Women’s National Team captain Carli Lloyd has made her feelings known to the current USWNT squad after their uninspiring 0-0 draw against Portugal on Tuesday.
The two-time World Cup winner was live on Fox Sports postgame coverage as an analyst when she questioned the mentality of the team. Their performance in Eden Park was uncharacteristic for a nation that has dominated women’s soccer for the last decade.
The US snuck into the Round of 16 at the 2023 Women’s World Cup after ties with the Netherlands and Portugal and a 3-0 win over Vietnam. They finished second to the Netherlands in Group E.
“I have never witnessed something like that,” Lloyd said. “There’s a difference between being respectful to the fans and saying hello to your family. But to be dancing, to be smiling, I mean that player of the match was that post. You are lucky to not be going home right now.”
Lloyd was referring to the 91st minute of the match when Ana Capeta almost put Portugal into the lead as she hammered the post with her shot attempt. Had that attack led to a goal, the US would have exited the Women’s World Cup group stages for the first time in its history. This is the first time they’ve won just one group-stage match in nine World Cup appearances.
US head coach Vlatko Andonovski responded to Lloyd’s comments in a postgame press conference.
“This team wanted to win this game more than anything else,” Vlatko said. “They have put everything they could into preparation for this tournament and in every game. So to question the mentality of this team, to question the willingness to win, to compete, I think it’s insane.
“It’s not like we played well by any means. But we owned it. We know that it’s not good enough, we’re not happy with our performance but we qualified for the next round, we’re moving on.”
Andonovski was hired in 2019 and has been tasked with delivering a third World Cup trophy in a row for the United States. He appeared silent after the 0-0 draw, allowing long-time player Kelley O’Hara to vocalize her frustrations inside the huddle.
“I told the team, listen, we did what we had to do, we’re moving on,” O’Hara spoke to Fox Soccer after the match. “The group stage is done, this is over, it’s in the rear-view. We have our next game in front of us and that’s the only one that matters. Maybe we didn’t do it the way we wanted to or planned on doing it but we’re advancing. This is the World Cup and that’s all that matters so we gotta be looking forward and only focused on that.”
Other veteran players like Alex Morgan, Lindsey Horan, and Megan Rapinoe also acknowledged the USWNT’s shortcomings throughout the group stages, but the squad’s focus seems to be firmly on a win in the next round.
The US will play the winners of Group G, most likely Sweden on Aug 6. in the quarterfinals.