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Carli Lloyd Dices 2 Defenders To Set Up Goal, But Draw Means She May Miss Playoffs

Carli Lloyd might only have one match left in her career, but she’s still showing she can dice up an NWSL defense. If her own team’s defense can shore up, she’ll earn another match before she retires.

Lloyd, who has never won a league title in more than a decade as a professional athlete, will have one final chance to secure a playoff berth before she retires at the end of this season. On Thursday, two days after playing her final USWNT match, she created the opening goal in the seventh minute with some impressive dribbling. But Racing Louisville rallied for a 1-1 draw, preventing Gotham FC from clinching a spot in the NWSL playoffs with one match to play. 

Normally, a coach would rest a player who played two days earlier in another city with another team, but Scott Parkinson gave Lloyd the go-ahead on Thursday night at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville. The ploy paid off, with Lloyd dicing two defenders before laying the ball off to Ifeoma Onumonu, whose first effort was saved before she poked home the rebound.

Carli Lloyd vs Racing Louisville

Reminder: Carli Lloyd is 39 and still out there dancing past players nearly half her age. 

Gotham knew coming in a win would secure a playoff berth with one game left on the schedule. But Louisville, ninth in the 10-team league and out of the running for the postseason, battled back in the 52nd minute, equalizing through Cece Kizer on the counter.

A second straight draw wouldn’t be good enough to ensure a trip to the postseason for Carli Lloyd, and Gotham nearly lost everything but for a stunning save from Kailen Sheridan to deny Cheyna Matthews in stoppage time.

The result was a 1-1 draw that put Gotham on 34 points, two ahead of the Houston Dash and N.C. Courage, with every team now having played 23 of 24 matches. 

As it stands, Lloyd is looking like she’s close to confirming at least one more match in her career, but it’s not a given. Gotham will need at least a draw when Racing Louisville makes a return trip to Red Bull Arena on Sunday, since Lloyd’s side holds the head-to-head advantage over its two closest rivals. The Chicago Red Stars, on 35 points, also need at least a draw against last-place Orlando to be safe. 

For reasons I cannot figure out, the NWSL doesn’t have a big final day where every team plays at the same time. Most other leagues around the world, including MLS, have long realized this is both the most fair and the most exciting way to end a season. Instead, there are matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, concluding with Gotham-Racing, which starts one hour after Washington-Houston.

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