Lloyd serious about NFL try, but not until 2020

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Carli Lloyd's 55-yard field goal at a Philadelphia Eagles-Baltimore Ravens practice last week generated enough buzz that the soccer star said she's now mulling multiple offers from NFL teams to explore kicking.

Just don't expect Lloyd to try to exploit the moment to make that happen in 2019, according to the coach who helped her reach the pinnacle of her current sport. James Galanis said that if Lloyd pursues football, it will be with an eye toward training for the 2020 season.

"If she's going to do this, she'll do it -- she'll train in the offseason, she'll get herself ready so that she just doesn't do it for the sake of doing it," Galanis told ESPN. "If she's going to do it, she's going to do it so that she can be a success."

What began as an invitation for Lloyd to observe Eagles practice with her husband Brian Hollins and Galanis' son Preston last week quickly took on a life of its own when video of her field goal began to circulate.

Galanis said that on Sunday, Lloyd sent him a screenshot of a text message from an NFL general manager gauging her interest in participating in a preseason game. She couldn't because the U.S. women's national team plays the same night.

Galanis said two NFL teams, which he declined to name out of deference to ongoing conversations, have expressed serious interest in Lloyd.

"I am having discussions with my husband and James about the reality of playing in the NFL," Lloyd told Fox Sports. "They both feel that I could do it and should consider it. So I'm seriously considering it, as it's a challenge."

Lloyd's longtime coach said he met no resistance when he advised her in a long conversation Monday that it would be a step for women around the world and also a great experience for her personal growth. An in-depth conversation followed Tuesday, when they began to talk about not only kicking style, but issues such as how locker room dynamics would work for a woman.

"In terms of dealing with the pressure and being able to execute the kick itself," Galanis said, "we both feel she could definitely do it."

imageCarli Lloyd's successful 55-yard field goal last week at Eagles-Ravens practice generated enough buzz to attract serious interest from NFL teams. Matt Rourke/AP

Galanis also said numerous observers pointed out to him that Lloyd took five steps before connecting from 55 yards at Eagles camp, while the standard run-up for an NFL kicker in game conditions is two steps. Tweaking that will be the first step when the two of them get together after the U.S. plays Portugal in Minneapolis on Tuesday to evaluate her potential options.

"We'll try kicking balls with a couple of steps," Galanis said. "And if her range is still the same ... then that's an important piece we knocked over because we'll know that she can kick the ball 55 yards with two steps, the same way an NFL player could.

"Once we knock that over, we'll contact one of the NFL teams and tell them that we're interested and we'd like to come down and spend some time with their field goal-kicking coaches and let them make some tweaks and fix her technique or adjust her technique. From there, bring in the team, and she can do it live at training in kind of like a realistic situation."

Gender aside, it is unlikely anyone new to it could pick up the nuances of football place-kicking in time to make a serious run at the rosters of NFL teams entering preseason finales. But Lloyd, 37, became a World Cup Golden Ball winner, two-time World Cup winner, two-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the all-time leading scorers for the U.S. with a methodical, almost maniacal, approach to training and attention to detail. She didn't do anything on a whim, and that appears to be her mindset when it comes to a future on the gridiron.

"I don't want to go in there blindly," Lloyd told NBCSports Philadelphia after she threw out the first pitch at Tuesday night's Pittsburgh Pirates-Philadelphia Phillies game. "I want to actually attempt to do it. But I know that I definitely could do it, because anything I set my mind to do, I can do it. And I actually do kick balls for a living. So, yeah, it's all about the technique, and we'll see what happens."

What that means for her soccer future, either with the U.S. or Sky Blue FC of the National Women's Soccer League, is unclear. She filled an important role for the U.S. en route to the World Cup title this past summer, playing primarily as a forward off the bench instead of her usual position as a starting midfielder, but she made no secret of her belief that her play merited more minutes.

She has long stated a desire to play through the 2020 Olympics, hedging only slightly in saying in the immediate aftermath of the World Cup final that she would go home and evaluate her plans. Olympic rosters are limited to 18 players, five fewer than the World Cup, which will leave Jill Ellis' successor as U.S. coach with a host of difficult decisions entering qualifying.

"There's question marks still with what's going on with Carli moving forward with the women's national team," Galanis said. "We don't know who the coach is going to be. Whoever the coach is, Carli is going to have to have a conversation with the new coach and see if Carli is even part of the plans moving forward."

Or if she has moved on to an unprecedented challenge. The idea obviously intrigues her at the moment. She will know more after kicking more seriously with Galanis next week, and then potentially as more than a guest in an NFL practice.

"Then she's going to have to make a decision for the future," Galanis said. "That's the short-term plan that we have for it, because she's serious about it, and she wants to see if this is something that she can really do."

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