So far in the Women's World Cup, the U.S. has been led by a defense that has conceded a goal just once in the entire tournament. The Americans have scored six goals in four games, but the team's attack has looked inconsistent throughout.
Ahead of Friday's quarterfinal against China, the performance of the U.S. midfield remains a huge concern, and with midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation, those worries have been magnified.
Lloyd indicated that the players are doing everything they can to follow the instructions of U.S. manager Jill Ellis and her staff, which includes defending deeper than the team has in the past. But Lloyd added the responsibility to perform ultimately comes down to the players.
"We're the ones out on the field, and you've just got to play and let things happen," she said. "When you think too much, you can kind of be unsure of yourself. But teams are getting a lot harder. It's hard for us. People see us during our friendly matches, we're winning 5-0, 6-0. That doesn't happen at a World Cup. It's a lot, lot harder."
When asked why the U.S. players were thinking too much, Lloyd had an interesting response.
"I think it's females in general," she said. "I think we all tend to overthink things, overanalyze things. We want to be at our best, that's the facts. We all want to be playing well, peaking. But it's a game we've played our whole lives, and when we step on the field, we've just got to let instincts take over."
In the last few games, Lloyd has tended to hang back while letting Holiday venture further forward. How much that dynamic will change with Morgan Brian possibly replacing Holiday remains to be seen, but Lloyd says she knows she needs to contribute more for the U.S. to be successful.
"The defensive shape has been strong, but I think in order for us to win this thing, in order for us to show what we've got, show the world what we've got, we've got to take some risks at some point," she said. "I know for me, I love to attack. I had a decent shot last game. I need more of that. I need to get the ball, I need to run at players, I need to create stuff. I need to find a way to impact the game no matter how it's going, if it's more direct, if we're possessing. That's my focus, and hopefully that can help the team."
What Are The Chances The U.S. Advances To Semis?
Julie Foudy, Kate Markgraf, and Alejandro Moreno break down a recent Women's Soccer Power Index poll in which Team USA has an 88 percent chance of advancing to the semifinals.