Carli Lloyd didn't exactly hide that she was disgruntled when she was first traded from the WNY Flash to the Houston Dash before the 2015 NWSL season. But after the World Cup, she gave an interview to the Democrat & Chronicle that didn't just spill the tea, but took the whole damn pot and dumped it on Aaran Lines.
You can read the interview here or listen to her comments here, but to summarize: respect. Lack thereof. She feels like Flash head coach Aaran Lines fundamentally lacks respect for both her and longtime mentor James Galanis. Then she doubles down by telling the D&C that when it came time to allocate the USWNT to NWSL teams and each player had to pick their top three locations, "Not a single national team player wanted to go play for the Flash."
The current national team players on the Flash roster are Sydney Leroux and Whitney Engen. Leroux made no bones about not liking her trade from Seattle, but you have to think that Engen at least is currently texting a sarcastic "Thanks, bro" to Lloyd. And what about original allocation and hometown hero Abby Wambach, who peaced out on NWSL to prepare for the World Cup, then ended up living in Portland with her wife while her rights remain with Seattle?
At the time, Wambach said playing in Rochester was "a dream come true." But she also said it "may not have been geographically my No. 1 choice, but it was the right choice for me and the league."
That's pretty rough for both the Flash organization and its fans. But it's not necessarily a bad thing for the league as a whole.
There's a range of reasons why sports fans invest emotionally in the game, but one of them is narrative. Watching sports can sometimes be even better than the finest scripted drama. Who needs Shonda Rhimes when Carli Lloyd is out here basically ethering her old club and coach for free?
Add on to that the fact that Lloyd is probably the national team player with the most heat right now, and you've got a lot of eyes and ears learning that NWSL is not just about best friends working hard and shaking hands. There's plenty of that, but there's also rivalries and resentment and bitter feuds. There's room for teams who play hard but respect each other, and teams that absolutely positively despise each other.
This is the kind of controversy that doesn't involve anyone getting arrested or physically hurting someone else. It's between professionals, limited to soccer-specific issues (as far as we know). Sure, some feelings might be bruised, but now every single Houston Dash vs. WNY Flash game has a delicious edge. Carli Lloyd has basically perfectly marinated that matchup before it hits the grill. You could eat it without marinade, but now it's all juicy and tender. If you're a Flash fan, maybe you want to see Lloyd get a big helping of humble pie. If you're a Dash fan, everything Lloyd does on that field is now perfectly salted. If you're anyone else, that's just a good, solid 90 minutes of fun.
In fact, the Dash are scheduled to play the Flash the day after the interview went live, which: well played, Democrat & Chronicle.
Does it seem like a huge overreaction to a bad trade, if that is in fact the only issue at stake? Yes. But no one gets addicted to entertainment because it's all sunshine all the time; you need conflict for compelling watching. Carli Lloyd just threw down a giant gauntlet; whether or not the Flash pick it up, you can bet a whole lot of people who otherwise might not have cared about this Flash vs. Dash game are going to tune in.