Every time Carli Lloyd, the two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, comes to Minnesota, all she does is score twice and win.
She did it last time here, when her U.S. women’s national soccer team came to Minnesota for the first time in a decade and she scored two times in a 5-1 friendly victory over Switzerland at new U.S. Bank Stadium in October 2016.
On Tuesday, her undermanned World Cup-winning team brought its “Victory Tour” to sold-out Allianz Field, and she scored two first-half goals — the second on a penalty kick — in a 3-0 victory over Portugal.
“Guess so, right?” she said when asked if that’s all she does when she comes to Minnesota. “Oh yeah, I did have two. Or did I have one or two?”
Two, both times.
“All right,” she said.
She needed to be Tuesday’s veteran leader because six players — including World Cup stars Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Lavelle Rose — didn’t play because of injury or other commitments.
So Lloyd stepped forth and delivered the only goal her team would need in the 22nd minute when she scored into an open goal after starting the scoring sequence with her own shot that Portugal goalkeeper Ines Pereira stopped.
Ten minutes later, she converted a penalty kick after Portugal committed a foul just inside the 18-yard box.
After playing in her 284th game with the national team dating to 2005, Lloyd was asked if she needed to step up more with so many notable forwards missing Tuesday.
“I step up every game, regardless of who’s out there and who’s playing or not playing,” she said. “You should know that by now.”
Yeah, what she said …
“She was fantastic tonight,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who is coaching her final games on this tour before she steps away from the job.
“She could have had a few more. Carli leaves everything on the pitch. I have tremendous respect for that.”
Now more than midway through it, the U.S. team’s Victory Team presented by U.S. Soccer has been all about celebrating July’s victory. Relatively little has been mentioned of the players’ gender-discrimination lawsuit against its governing organization seeking equitable pay that has a May trial date set.
“We’re working on that,” Morgan said before Tuesday’s game. “We’re trying to get after it from all angles. I know it will increase dramatically. How close we’ll get to the men, it will take a lot longer than four years from now.
“But the whole idea is we continue to close the gap and we’re hopeful that FIFA is aligned with us on our views.”
• Ellis on getting her 105th victory as U.S. women’s national team coach and tying the late Tony DiCicco for most in the program’s history: “It’s a privilege and honor tying Tony DiCicco. That’s a gentleman who built and paved the way, along with Anson (Dorrance) and all the previous coaches.”
• Before it visited Minnesota twice in the past three years, the U.S. women’s national team called Blaine something of its home away from home for a 20-year period starting in 1986. It played 13 matches there in that time, winning 10 and losing three. It played its first four domestic games in Blaine in 1987.