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Carli Lloyd to miss NWSL Challenge Cup

Sky Blue FC superstar citing “minor injury” for not going to Utah

Sky Blue FC v North Carolina Courage

In an official team release put out on Sunday Sky Blue FC announced that midfielder Carli Lloyd would be missing the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to a “minor knee injury.” The injury, which was obtained while training at home in preparation for the tournament’s kickoff next month, will keep the Delran native sidelined for the entirety of the competition.

Lloyd is notorious for never slacking in her workouts off of club grounds, no doubt a major reason why she’s such a productive player even as she approaches her 38th birthday. Unfortunately, that relentless intensity could have also been a factor in such an injury.

On the outset, this appears to be a major blow for the club. Lloyd was the club’s leading scorer last season, and was often the focal point in any of the team’s attacks. Without her veteran presence at the top of the Sky Blue midfield, it will certainly be interesting to see how maintains their shape in both the midfield and on the front foot, especially given that the current roster doesn’t seem to provide an immediate like-for-like replacement at Lloyd’s preferred role as a false striker or a free roaming #10.

But there is potentially a small silver lining in Lloyd’s absence from the tournament. Sky Blue is clearly a team looking to rebuild around a revamped young core, as evidenced by the winter signings of Midge Purce and Mallory Pugh. Without Lloyd, these new attackers, alongside 23-year old forward Paige Monaghan, who could poised for a breakout year after a promising 2019, will be put into the spotlight from the beginning. Whether the team can put up the goals needed to advance through the Challenge Cup will be determined by the play of this young trio. This experience will be invaluable as Lloyd gets closer and closer to finally hanging up the cleats on an illustrious career.

Lloyd joins a growing list of household name U.S. national team stars that won’t be participating in the NWSL’s summer tournament, for medical reasons or otherwise, including reigning Ballon D’Or winner Megan Rapinoe and Utah Royals star Christen Press.