Jan 6, 2011

Kristine Lilly Hangs Up Her Boots

Yesterday, the big news in American soccer had nothing to do with the U.S. Men's National Team opening its January training camp, or MLS or anything else.  Nope, the big story and one that has not been adequately covered is retirement of Kristine Lilly.

For those of you who don't recognize the name here are a few facts about Lilly:

  1. She has more caps (352) than any other player, male or female, and is the only player to earn more than 200. 
  2. She has played in every iteration of the Women's World Cup and probably had a good chance of making the USWNT for this year's Women's World Cup in Germany.  By the way, that is Five World Cups.  If she had played in this year's WWC, she would have been the only player, male or female, to play in SIX World Cups.  Still, playing in five is remarkable.
  3. She has scored 130 goals and chipped in 105 assists, second on both lists only to Mia Hamm.
  4. She has played in parts of four different decades, with an international playing career that started when she was 16 and ended at age 39--23 years. 

My best memory of Krisitne Lilly is her goal line clearance in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final which saved an almost certain goal and set the stage for the dramatic penalty kick shootout victory for the USWNT. Check out this video of Lilly's Highlights in a long career. The goal line save is about 25 seconds in.

Her longevity, health, skill, intelligence and speed made her one of the greatest players ever.   She is shining example of what a player should be.  Lilly was also a technically proficient player, technique that is missing from some of the current crop of players.  Hopefully she can help bring back that technical skill as a coach.

I will miss her as a player, but I can't wait to see her as a coach.  Don't be surprised to see Lilly as the USWNT team coach in a few years after her young child gets a little older.

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