If you are not a close follower of the United States women's soccer community on social media outlets, you might not be aware that there is a very large legion of fans who do not like Carli Lloyd. Not necessarily because of anything that has to do with her as a person, or any dirty play on the pitch. It's mostly because she has a nasty habit of firing lots of shots over the crossbar. Her offenses in the 2011 World Cup were fairly egregious.
I am not a Carli Lloyd hater, per say, but I certainly think that Shannon Boxx and Lauren Cheney are better. Heck, I thought that sometimes central player, usually winger Tobin Heath was a better central midfielder. I even prefer Lori Lindsey, the often injured Leslie Osborne, Yael Averbuch ... I could probably name a lot of American central midfielders I liked better than Carli Lloyd coming into the Olympics.
But I was wrong. Lloyd was the Americans' co-leaders with six goals in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, and she currently has four goals in the Olympics. She scored the opening goal of the final against Japan with a great header on a late run into the box. Japan controlled the rest of the first half, and the United States needed a big shot in the arm to star the second half. This was that shot in the arm.
Lloyd spent good parts of 2010 and 2011 firing shots over the crossbar, but she's followed up her performance at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament with some quality goals, including this stellar strike. It's the quality of goal she didn't score for a very long time before 2012, and to be completely honest, it's the kind of goal that the United States' other central midfielders struggle to produce.
Welcome back, Carli.
Follow along with our live coverage of the final in our USA Vs. Japan, London 2012 Olympics StoryStream.