Carli Lloyd, one of the most successful players in the history of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), says she “hated” playing for the team in the final years before she retired last year.
Speaking to former teammate Hope Solo earlier this week, the 39-year-old said the culture within the national set-up was the worst she’d ever seen.
“It was really tough and challenging to be playing these last several years,” she said, appearing on the ‘Hope Solo Speaks’ podcast.
“To be quite honest, I hated it. It wasn’t fun going in. It was only for love of the game, really, for me.
“I wanted to win and I wanted to help the team, but the culture within the team was the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
Over an illustrious international career which began in 2005, Lloyd earned 312 caps – the second all-time in US and world history behind only Kristine Lilly (354) – and scored 128 goals.
Through her stint on the national team under five different coaches, the USWNT had an overall record of 257-17-38, a winning percentage of 88%.
Lloyd won the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice, as well as claiming two Olympic gold medals.
Most recently, though, she helped USWNT to a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – a disappointing result given previous dominance.
This year, the team also reached an agreement to end a long-running dispute over equal pay.
The dispute dated back to March 2019 when the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer.
On Wednesday, Lloyd posted a video explaining the comments she had made to Solo, who had a similar experience herself.
“You can have the most talented people working for you, you can have the most talented players playing on the team, but if there is no collective one, if there is no collective goal, no team and no business can be successful with a poor culture,” Lloyd said.
“And in every successful team, nothing becomes bigger than winning. And when things and other things become bigger than performing and the will to win, that is when the culture is no longer good enough.
“And by culture, I am referring to mentality, respect for coaches, teammates, support staff. I am also talking about the drive, the desire, the hunger, the fight, the accepting a role and doing it to the best of your ability.
She added: “You represent the crest and you represent your country with pride because there are millions of other people who would love to be in our shoes playing on the national team and so you can never take it for granted.”
Lloyd has received criticism online for the comments she made in the podcast but has stood by what she said.
“It’s no different than my playing career. Now getting it in retirement,” she wrote, replying to a tweet about the backlash.
“I’ll always be me. Try to spread wisdom, be kind and respect everyone I come in contact with.
“I still have a lot left to give to this world and the soccer world and no one will ever stop me.”
CNN has reached out to USWNT for comment but has not received an immediate response.