Carli Lloyd on USA’s escape: ‘The player of the match was that post’

World Cup legend Carli Lloyd termed the United States‘ performance as “very lackluster” after a disjointed scoreless draw with Portugal on Tuesday.

“I’m just seeing a very lackluster, uninspiring, taking it for granted — where winning and training and doing all you can to be the best possible individual player is not happening,” Lloyd said in the postgame show on FOX.

Despite the draw, the Americans advanced to the round of 16 — albeit with just five points, the team’s worst performance ever in the group stage.

To Lloyd, the U.S. players did not display the proper sense of urgency and concern after a disjointed match.

“I have never witnessed something like that,” Lloyd said, as she gestured towards an on-set monitor displaying USWNT athletes smiling and dancing after the game. “There’s a difference between being respectful to the fans and saying hello to your family, but to be dancing and smiling — I mean, the player of the match was that post. We’re lucky to not be going home right now.”

Lloyd, who scored a brilliant hat trick to lead the USA to victory in the 2015 tournament, said her former team did not display the proper mindset in a match in which they needed a result to avoid elimination.

“They’re playing to not lose, versus playing to win,” Lloyd said. “That’s the difference that I see. Portugal played to win, and they almost did.”

Portugal vs. United States Takeaways: “USWNT is playing to not lose, not playing to win”

Lloyd spoke out about the USWNT’s culture upon her retirement from international soccer and doubled down on those remarks Tuesday, as the Americans looked nothing like the two-time defending champions.

“It started to shift post-2020,” Lloyd said. “I think there’s just a lot of off-the-field things that are happening. You never want to take anything for granted. You put on that jersey, and you want to give everything you have — for the people that came before you, for the people that are going to come after you — and I’m just not seeing that passion.”

“The player of that match was that post” — Carli Lloyd reacts to USWNT celebrating after narrowly escaping defeat

USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski was asked about Lloyd’s comments in his postgame press conference, and he called it “insane” to question his team’s passion.

“This team wanted to win this game more than anything else,” Andonovski said. “They’ve put everything they could in preparation for this tournament …

“To question the willingness to win (and) compete, I think it’s insane. But I’ve never seen a team step on the field and try harder. …

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and you know, they can say whatever they want, but I just know how this team feels.”

Andonovski said the team was not happy with its performance, but also know that they survived into the knockout round.

“It’s not like we played well by any means,” he said. “We’re not happy with our performance … but we qualified for the next round.”

Heather O’Reilly, who was teammates with Lloyd when the USWNT won the 2015 Women’s World Cup, remembers hearing similar chatter to what this year’s team is hearing from Lloyd, and the FOX Sports analyst doesn’t think it’s productive.

“To remind everybody what happened in 2015, we got a good result in the first game, then we draw in the second, and then we stumble in our third game,” she said. “There was so much chatter. Are we going out early? Does this team have it? That doesn’t help. That doesn’t help the players, that doesn’t help the staff, that doesn’t help the football. 

“We need to get behind the team. In 2015, our backs were against the wall and we fought back. A couple of tactical changes were made, we all know that. Carli Lloyd made history. But this team needs us to get behind them.”

The USWNT will play its next game of the Women’s World Cup on Sunday against the winner of Group G. No. 2-ranked Sweden needs just one point to win the group in its final group-stage match against Argentina.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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