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Soccer phenom Carli Lloyd on protests, equal pay & leadership

While she supports Megan Rapinoe, soccer superstar Carli Lloyd said her teammate's recent silent protest during the national anthem is an unwelcome distraction.

"The cause is great, the conversation is great, but I do think there are more people talking about her actual kneeling and we're losing sight of what she is actually fighting for," Lloyd said. "That's the unfortunate thing that is happening."

Following in the footsteps of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Rapinoe has taken a knee during the national anthem in her last two games, protesting racial inequality and police shootings of African-Americans.

"If it were me, I would protest in a different fashion," Lloyd told CNBC during an interview about her new autobiography, "When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World."

The two-time Olympic gold medalist and co-captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team, also opened up about a number of other issues from equal pay to her legacy and her teammates.

Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates after beating Germany in the World Cup semifinals. Her penalty kick got the US on the board – and on the way to a 2-0 victory.
Tim Bouwer | isisphotos.com
Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates after beating Germany in the World Cup semifinals. Her penalty kick got the US on the board – and on the way to a 2-0 victory.

In March, Lloyd along with her teammates Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn and Rapinoe, filed a complaint against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that members of the women's national team are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.

"Things are going well with that," said Lloyd. "It's my duty and our team's duty to continue this fight. I want to leave the game better off than when I came on," she added.

Lloyd said they've received overwhelming support and the real test will come when their collective bargaining deal is up at the end of the year.


Carli Lloyd’s first goal in the World Cup Final against Japan.
John Todd | isiphotos.com
Carli Lloyd’s first goal in the World Cup Final against Japan.

The 2015 FIFA World Cup winner also reflected on her former teammate and best friend, Solo. The goalie received a six-month suspension from the U.S. Women's National Team, coming after the defeat by Sweden, where Solo called their team "a bunch of cowards." Lloyd says she saddened by what happened, and she hopes it's not the end of Solo's career.

"I think Hope is a very competitive person," she said. "I think her comments were not a jab at every player on Sweden. I think it was about their style of play. It was the icing on the cake and the last string," she added.

"At the end of the day, there isn't a whole lot that any of us can do. This was a decision U.S. soccer made, and we'll have to see what happens."

Lloyd also reflected on her role as co-captain of the U.S. Women's National team and her leadership style.

Lloyd took the co-captain reins in January from superstar Abby Wambach, who retired. "I think everyone is a leader in different ways. She [Wambach] was very vocal, I'm more of a leader by example," said Lloyd.


Carli Lloyd won the Silver Boot as the second leading score in the 2015 World Cup.
Source: Steven Limentani/isiphotos.com
Carli Lloyd won the Silver Boot as the second leading score in the 2015 World Cup.

Wambach, the highest-all-time goal scorer for the U.S. national team, recently revealed in her own memoir, "Forward," her struggles with drugs and alcohol. "I didn't know it was that bad," said Lloyd. "I know she's a fighter and will overcome this," she added. "She's a legend."

So, what's next for the soccer phenom? "Honestly, I'm not sure what the next few years will bring me," said Lloyd. But you can count on soccer being involved.

Lloyd said she wants to continue helping younger players develop through her sports camps and helping teach "mental toughness."

"It takes a lot of mental toughness to get through certain obstacles — you have to be a fighter and fierce competitor."