NEW YORK - Tobin Heath considers herself "stupid lucky." After all, nearly every team the midfielder from Basking Ridge has played for has been successful.On the cusp of her second FIFA Women's World Cup, Heath paused to look back on her career thus far – and her long relationship with Delran native Carli Lloyd. They are the only two Jersey Girls left on the United States women's national team, determined to preserve the legacy of both the program and their home state.
Next month will be Delran native Carli Lloyd's fourth World Cup and possibly her last. Dave Isaac, @davegisaac
The Americans will face Mexico at noon Sunday at Red Bull Arena for their sendoff match. They open the World Cup group stage against Thailand on June 11 in Reims, followed by Chile on June 16 in Paris, and Sweden on June 20 at Le Havre."I would never want to play for a team that doesn't have high expectations," said Heath, 30, who won three NCAA titles at the University of North Carolina, two Olympic gold medals, and two National Women's Soccer League titles with Portland (Ore.) Thorns.""Those are the kind of expectations I have of myself as a player. This team, if you look at the longevity of women's soccer and winning tournaments, it is a legacy. … When you grow up in the youth system, you know that expectation. When you reach the senior team, everyone comes in having that expectation of winning a major championship. Any failure to do so is a failure to live up to that legacy."
At 36, Lloyd is the elder statesman of the American squad. This will be her fourth Women's World Cup, the ninth U.S. woman to reach the milestone.But both Lloyd and Heath's roles have changed. While Heath has had more opportunities, Lloyd insisted Friday, "I'm not here to be a supersub. That's not the type of person I am. I'm a fighter."The all-time leading scorer – goals and points – at Rutgers University, Lloyd scored three goals in the first 16 minutes of the '15 Women's World Cup final. She is a two-time FIFA Player of the Year and three-time Olympian. Also a midfielder, Heath was the first pick in the Women's Professional Soccer draft in 2010 and U.S. Soccer's Athlete of the Year in 2016. Creative and composed on the ball, Heath and some of their teammates are launching their own business – re_social – just in time for the World Cup."Being a kid from Jersey kind of speaks for itself," Heath said with a chuckle. "There's a history of kids from Jersey playing on this team. I don't know, there's this bond you have. … I know (Carli). I know her work ethic. I know what drives her. When you grow up in a certain region, there's a certain way about you that's similar and it's comfortable."Story continues after the photo gallery
While Heath played professional soccer for Paris Saint-Germain and now on the West Coast, Lloyd has stayed firmly anchored in South Jersey. She and her high school sweetheart turned husband Brian Hollins bought a house in the woods, and she plays for Rutgers-based Sky Blue FC.However, Lloyd is notorious for keeping her family and friends away from big events. On Friday, she confessed her cousin's family would be in France, and joked that Hollins – and her long-time trainer, James Galanis, who will be on vacation in Greece with his family – might "pop over." She said she set aside just two tickets for the Women's World Cup semifinal and final, "so people will have to fight over them.""I have a little bit of a different mindset," Lloyd said. "This being the fourth and, mostly likely, last World Cup of mine, I'm taking it day by day and embracing the journey a little more. … I know what's at stake. I've just gotten to the point in my career where, the bigger the pressure, I go up three levels. I know the story's not over. That's the beauty of it. It's up to me."Staff writer Jane Havsy: 973-428-6682; email@example.com; www.dailyrecord.com/writerjane/