GLASGOW, Scotland - The two-time Olympic women's champion United States is so deep, it can afford to have its 2008 hero sitting on the bench. And then come into score another winner.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd did not start for the Americans in their 4-2 victory over France in its London Games opener Wednesday. But as an early substitute, she was there to help rally the United States from a two-goal deficit - and provide the difference in the triumph.
With coach Pia Sundage trying put the best 11 on the field, Lloyd found herself among the substitute Wednesday, despite her soccer resume that includes 37 goals in 136 international appearances - including the lone goal in the 2008 Olympic final that beat Brazil.
"Everybody goes through ups and downs in their careers," Lloyd said. "There are 18 of the best players in the world playing on this team. There are going to be players who start games. There's going to be players who come off the bench.
"Like Pia said, players coming off the bench are game winners. I just stepped up. I was prepared mentally and physically and that's what it took. It was a good feeling."
Called on to replace the injured Shannon Boxx, who hurt a quadriceps muscle in the 17th minute, the 30-year-old reminded observers that she has not retired with her strike in the 56th minute.
"The last three games prior to this I got a little bit used to it, but I never stopped working," Lloyd said. "I dug deep and I remained confident. I knew that what I could bring to the team. There are not too many people who can.
"I was confident in what I could do, winning head balls, tackling, playing that holding role, playing that attacking role. My teammates know what I could do. The coaching staff knows. I just remained confident and kept it taking it day-by-day, mentally prepared as if I was going to come in the game. That's what made the difference."
Lloyd's attitude certainly has not been lost on her teammates.
"Carli came in and did us proud," said Abby Wambach, who scored her 139th international goal in the win. "She did not let anything get to her head. It wasn't about ego. it was about coming on and supporting the team and doing whatever she could do to make sure we got those three points. Her goal was fantastic. She played a great game."
Lloyd got her opportunity to leave her mark on the match with the score 2-2. French midfielder Sonia Bompastor slipped on the right flank while vying for the ball, giving Megan Rapinoe room to cross it to Lloyd, who with time and space fired a 25-meter shot past goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi.
"It was a great pass by Rapinoe," Lloyd said. "The position I came in was bit of a more holding a player, so I wasn't getting myself in the box. I knew that everyone crashing in towards the goal. No one was marking me. Took a touch, set myself up and couldn't hit it more perfectly than I did."
Lloyd has scored many goals from outside the penalty area.
"First of all, she has a belief in herself," Wambach said. "When you are from 35-to-20 yards out, you have to have to have belief and you have to have a good shot. . . . She hit it perfectly. I can always tell when she is going to shoot. So I looked at the goal and I had this perfect view.
"It was a great shot. She earned that. She earned the right to be on the field. I don't care who starts for this game, whoever finishes the game are going to be people help us win game and win championships."