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 midfielder Carli Lloyd. The animus doesn't necessarily have anything to do with Lloyd 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 FIFA Women's World Cup were fairly egregious.
I am not a Carli Lloyd hater, per se, but I certainly think that Shannon Boxx and Lauren Cheney are better options. Heck, I thought that winger/sometimes central player Tobin Heath was a better central midfielder than Lloyd. 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 Lloyd coming into the Olympics.
But I was wrong. Lloyd's six goals in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament tied Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez for tops on Team USA, and she currently has four goals at the Olympics. She scored the opening goal of the gold medal 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 start the second half. Lloyd provided it.
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 kind 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.