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Where does retiring Carli Lloyd rank in all-time USWNT lore?

Nick Mendola shares his thoughts on the USWNT after covering the World Cup winners' run to Olympic bronze.

Carli Lloyd is retiring from soccer as a no-doubt, rubber-stamped, write tattoo it on the page legend of soccer.

Lloyd will play four more times for the USWNT and finish the National Women’s Soccer League season with NY/NJ Gotham FC.

The 39-year-old World Cup-winning USWNT star is a former FIFA World Player of the Year and would be the best player to ever lace them up if she were a citizen of nearly any country on Earth.

But what about the United States?

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After all, the United States women’s national team has laid claim to six world top player awards between the FIFA Best and Women’s World Player of the Year awards.

Lloyd won both, joining Mia Hamm as one of only four women to win multiple honors.

Now Hamm is the undisputed “GOAT” of U.S. soccer, a groundbreaking player who quite literally changed the game for women in this country (huge hat tip to Michelle Akers). Yes these awards are generally heavily tilted toward scorers, but it’s still incredible stuff.

Players who join Hamm as undisputedly above Lloyd in terms of world history is a short, shortlist including Marta, Christine Sinclair, and Birgit Prinz. Sinclair having never finished top three in any of these votes is criminal, but we digress.

Who should be in the discussion for the Top 10 players in USWNT history?

There are some no-doubt names on this list besides Lloyd and Hamm. Michelle Akers, Kristine Lilly, Christie Pearce (Rampone), Julie Foudy, and Abby Wambach simply must be on the list.

But the next class is absolutely massive. There’s current captain Becky Sauerbrunn and teammates Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. Kelley O’Hara and Julie Ertz may still grow into these places, and Hope Solo was an absolute unit during her time with the program.

Briana Scurry is also among the legends, while Heather O’Reilly and Tiffeny Milbrett will have their supporters. Brandi Chastain wasn’t just a star but has one of the most iconic moments in sports history under her belt (or crest!).

Joy Fawcett and Carla Overbeck were long-time captains of the team and stars in periods of massive import for the sport here. Cindy Parlow Cone, Shannon MacMillan, and Cindy Parlow are in the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

The USWNT all-time Best XI was last unveiled in 2013 with Scurry, Chastain, Fawcett, Overbeck, Rampone, Akers, Foudy, Lilly, Hamm, Morgan, and Wambach honored by the federation and media. Who could move out for Rapinoe, Sauerbrunn, Ertz, or any of the above names?

England v USA: Semi Final - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 02: Alex Morgan of USA celebrates scoring their 2nd goal by pretending to drink a cup of tea during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Semi Final match between England and USA at Stade de Lyon on July 2, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

Offside via Getty Images

Ranking the Top 10 players in USWNT history

It’s difficult to avoid recency bias without going too far and overlooking megastars. Morgan was already on the Best XI list eight years ago and now has over 100 goals. Rapinoe has gotten even better and turned into a global icon, but has probably gone from one of the most unheralded for her on-field play to getting more than enough love.

Still, players on the team between 2015 and 2019 are in a select group with Germans from 2003 and 2007 as players to win back-to-back World Cups, and the USWNT did it in the most advanced and diverse talent pool not just for Americans but for the tournament.

This was painful. We did not include a single goalkeeper and still just got Megan freakin’ Rapinoe on the list. Ertz seems the most likely of the current players to join this list but given that Rapinoe, Morgan, and Sauerbrunn have plenty in their tanks, well, who would come off next?

10. Megan Rapinoe

9. Alex Morgan

8. Becky Sauerbrunn

7. Julie Foudy

6. Abby Wambach

5. Carli Lloyd

4. Christie Pearce (Rampone)

3. Kristine Lilly

2. Michelle Akers

1. Mia Hamm

Mia Hamm

United States forward Mia Hamm celebrates with a hug from forward Abby Wambach October 1, 2003 at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachuttes, during the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003. The U. S. defeated Norway 1 - 0. Wambach scored the game-winning goal. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)


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