Back in the day: Carli Lloyd
In our new espnW series, elite athletes look back on their rookie days.
When I first met Hope Solo, I was on the under-21 national team, and I remember I was so intimidated by her. I was a freshman at Rutgers, and she was a little older. She's a very matter-of-fact person and will tell you exactly what she thinks, and I was afraid I'd say something to make her mad.
Hope knows what she wants in life and knows whom she wants to be friends with, and here I was this kid from New Jersey. I wouldn't say I have the same personality, but I'm pretty tough and I don't usually back down, so we're similar in those ways.
We went along with our business and continued playing on the U-21 team together without being super close. Then Hope went on to play for the full women's national team, and after I graduated, I made that team as well. That's where we had our first real confrontation: We were doing residency (where we lived in L.A. and trained as a team to prepare for the 2007 World Cup -- kind of a giant team training camp), and one day, we both needed the rental car that everyone was sharing. We got into a bit of an argument, and I won.
I'm not sure why we went from that to being close friends today, but we did, and now we look back at that fight and laugh. I guess you could call it a turning point in our relationship. After that we started sitting in the back of the bus together on team trips, and we realized we actually liked each other.
Then the 2007 World Cup happened: She was pulled from playing in the semifinal against Brazil, we lost the game, and it sparked a ton of media attention after she criticized the decision to not let her play. I think our friendship really evolved when she saw that I stood by her side through it all.
Now we're friends, teammates and occasionally rivals, when my team, the Western New York Flash, takes on hers (Seattle Reign FC) in the National Women's Soccer League. And I try hard not to judge people too quickly because I've realized firsthand that you get a different perspective after you really know someone.