This is the same Manchester City organization that has been competing for championships on the men’s side, in England, for the past half-dozen years.
Man City has a women’s team, and it’s good, and figures to get better now that Lloyd has committed to joining them for most of the spring.
Lloyd, 34, will miss the first half of the National Women’s Soccer League season to spend those 13 weeks in England, but her commitment, albeit temporary, is only the latest for elite American soccer players, who have had trouble monetizing their careers.
It now seems more likely several European nations will develop the women’s club game faster than has been seen in the U.S., where various leagues and clubs have come and gone and mostly lost money while paying players pittances.
Lloyd has been the organizer of the U.S. women’s team for most of a decade, and her three goals in the 2015 Women’s World Cup clinched victory for the Americans.
Manchester City is committing itself to the women’s game, and the soccer infrastructure in England and in much of Europe outstrips what is going on in the U.S.
One need look no further than the coverage given in Britain to Lloyd’s announcement this week. The BBC and major daily newspapers gave it extended coverage and prominent display. Much more so than would be expected if an elite foreign player announced she would play in a U.S. league.
No salary figures were released or even guessed at, but Lloyd will be able to help City win the FA Women’s Cup as well as the European Champions League, further polishing her resume as one of the greats in the women’s game.
She is not the first American to fly over the Atlantic in search of an interesting and perhaps lucrative playing opportunity. Alex Morgan plays for Lyon of the French women’s league, and Heather O’Reilly (Arsenal) and Crystal Dunn (Chelsea) are already in England.
A strange reality of women’s soccer in the U.S. has been the disconnect between the country’s very successful amateur game, as well as the national team’s two big quadrennial events (the Olympics and the Women’s World Cup), and any domestic professional league.
Crowds have been small and sponsorships few and far between for women’s professional leagues in the States.
It seems even more dire than is the case of women’s basketball, where top players play for less than $100,000 a season in the WNBA, prompting many of them to play in Europe or Russia. (See: Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.)
The women’s soccer situation in Europe looks more stable, with greater chances for growth, particularly because the women’s clubs usually are associated with major men’s clubs that have first-rate facilities in place.
If Lloyd finds she enjoys playing in England, perhaps she will push to return for the 2018 season … and maybe other top U.S. female players will take closer looks at the women’s game in England and on the continent.
Going to Europe may be how future Abby Wambachs and Mia Hamms of U.S. soccer make a more comfortable living.