Carli Lloyd confident U.S. can end Women's World Cup offensive slump

Carli Lloyd continues to believe the U.S. will snap out of the scoring slump that has plagued it throughout the Women's World Cup.

"I've got full confidence in everyone, faith in everyone, that we'll eventually find our rhythm," she said Wednesday.

"Our best is yet to come."

But will it come too late?

The U.S., which has scored three goals in its last three games, meets China in the quarterfinals Friday. Under the best-case scenario, the Americans have just three World Cup games left.

Under the worst-case scenario, their tournament ends Friday.

Either way, there's not a lot of time left to figure things out. So Lloyd would like to see the U.S. dump its conservative defensive posture and play more aggressively against China.

"Yes, the defensive shape has been strong," said Lloyd, who has played every minute of this World Cup in the midfield. "But in order for us to win this thing and in order for us to show the world what we've got, we've got to take risks at some point."

Lloyd, 32, who has a goal and an assist in the tournament, says the U.S. has been holding back, partly through a fear of making mistakes and partly by design. Both can be fixed, the first by getting players to trust their instincts rather than overthinking every decision and the second by pushing the defensive line forward and going with just three midfielders.

"Whenever you have three in the midfield, it definitely helps kind of push on the attack a little bit," she said. "We're a bit deeper with our defensive pressure, so it's kind of a ways to get up and link with those forwards."

But while that may be the way Lloyd wants to play, she admitted that won't be her call.

"We're following the directions of the coaches," she said. "We're doing everything they ask of us."

Welcome back

U.S. defender Lori Chalupny played every minute of the 2007 World Cup but missed the next one four years later while dealing with a series of concussions. That didn't derail her pro career, but it did keep her from being called up to the national team.

After undergoing numerous exams in 2014, though, Chalupny was cleared by U.S. Soccer to rejoin the team and in Monday's round of 16 win over Colombia she was back on the field at a World Cup, playing nine minutes off the bench.

"It's been a long time," Chalupny, 31, said of the eight-year gap between World Cup appearances. "It feels good to get back out on the field."

Another sellout?

The U.S.-China quarterfinal at 24,000-seat TD Place Stadium is expected to be sold out, which would mark the third time in five games the U.S. team has played before a full house in this World Cup. And in one of the others, the Americans played before an announced crowd of 52,193 in Vancouver's BC Place, falling about 2,000 short of a sellout.

"We're getting pretty spoiled with the crowds," said Lloyd, who is playing in her third World Cup. "The fans have been amazing. Great for the women's game. Great for us."

The fans' enthusiasm has caused some problems, though. American defender Meghan Klingenberg said the fans are so loud she sometimes has trouble hearing instructions from goalkeeper Hope Solo.

"But she's communicating," Klingenberg said. "You can see her pointing."

Follow Kevin Baxter on Twitter @kbaxter11

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