Carli Lloyd clarifies 'laugh' remark about Hope Solo

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U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd speaks to the media before training in preparation for the 2015 women's soccer World Cup at Winnipeg Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Carli Lloyd has never been one to shy away from speaking her mind. It's why the Delran native is one of the most popular players on the U.S. women's soccer team, especially among always-blunt Philadelphia sports fans.

On Friday night, though, Lloyd got a little bit more unfiltered than she intended. Amid the tightly packed frenzy of her postgame interview with reporters, she was asked about the controversy surrounding goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Lloyd's response raised some eyebrows.

"Hope Solo news, that's so old news," she said. "Hope is my roommate, and we don't even talk about it. It's all old news, we just laugh about it."

The allusion to laughter drew particular attention, and sparked headlines claiming Solo - if not also Lloyd - laughed about domestic violence.

On Saturday, Lloyd made it clear that interpretation was not all what she meant.

"In no way am I making light of domestic volence," she said in a telephone interview.

Lloyd said she had "no idea" about letters exchanged between U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D, Conn.) and U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, which once again brought into the spotlight domestic violence allegations hanging over Solo. Gulati's response to Blumenthal was issued just moments before Lloyd met with the media in the wake of Friday's scoreless draw against Sweden.

The question to Lloyd, posed by a reporter from USA Today, specifically referenced the exchange between Gulati and Blumenthal.

It wasn't that Lloyd mis-heard what the reporter said. Nor did she try to claim that she was misinterpreted. Rather, it seems that in the heat of the moment, her reaction was based on being asked yet another question about a subject that she and her teammates are sick of discussing - no matter the specifics.

"Obviously, it wasn't the best choice of words," Lloyd said Saturday. "The laughing bit of it was the fact that, you know, we're a couple games deep into the World Cup, and the team is solely focused on the World Cup, the games, and the preparation. The fact that we're still being asked these questions about Hope's case is kind of tough."

The U.S. squad is in a nearly unprecented spotlight for their team, with their status as household names adding to the enormous pressure on the U.S. team to end its 16-year World Cup title drought. But Lloyd has no plans to be any less honest or forthcoming than she has always been.

"I am honest about my play and how we're performing as a team," she said. "But I'm classy, and I stand to be a good role model and go out on the field every single day and let my feet do the talking."

Indeed, Lloyd did not hide from the fact that the Americans have not been performing up to expectations. They beat Australia 3-1 thanks to a late-game surge, then couldn't crack a taut Swedish defense in a scoreless draw.

"We haven't seen our best performance yet, but hopefully there's still lots of games to play," she said. "I think we're going to figure things out... We never said once it was going to be easy."

As she reflected on where things stand heading into Tuesday's group stage game against Nigeria, Lloyd didn't spare herself from criticism.

"We need to go out there and just start playing," she said, "myself included - being a link and playmaking and getting the ball and getting it flowing."

The U.S. midfield took some pointed criticsism after the Australia game for giving up large amounts of space to the Matildas in the center of the park.

Lloyd said that as she re-watched film of the Sweden game, she saw improvement in that area.

"There were maybe only a few times where Sweden played through us, which I thought was really good," she said. "I usually love getting in tackles and love to kind of be that disruptor in there. Even though I'm not getting some of those tackles, the shape is good, and they were not playing through us, which is what we wanted."

Among the reasons for that, Lloyd said, was the team dealing better with the fast rolls and high bounces of Winnipeg Stadium's artificial surface.

The Americans spent plenty of time preparing for it. Indeed, many of them play on turf not only in games with the national teams, but with their clubs as well. Still, because the six World Cup stadiums - not to mention the many practice facilities - don't all use the same kind of turf, each new venue presents a new set of challenges.

"The through balls and the balls over the top down the line, they're going out of bounds," Lloyd said "You see teams - Japan, Colombia - they're playing the balls to feet. I think that's what's required. I'm starting to figure that out, and I think the more we can play to feet and get it and give it and play maybe a little shorter passes."

So what will it be like on BC Place's newly-installed Polytan? The old surface drew many complaints from Major League Soccer teams playing on it against the Vancouver Whitecaps, even after it was first installed.

Lloyd said she's "curious" to find out.

"Hopefully it will be a little bit longer, so that the ball can hold up a bit more," Lloyd said. "It was a bit shorter at Winnipeg Stadium."

It may seem hard to discern as a television viewer, or even as a fan in the stands. But for elite players, those minor difference can be glaring.

"For me, being a playmaker, you want to play those weighted passes, and grass allows you to do that," Lloyd said. "You can put backspin on it, you can play a ball over the back line and it will slow up. On turf you can have backspin and it's still going to roll out of bounds. It's just different, and you have to adapt."

By the time Lloyd finished her point, it was clear that as she promised, she still wasn't holding anything back.