Great US Soccer Players Have One Thing In Common: They're From New Jersey
This type of thing is not normal.
Players don't just take on the captain's armband in the middle of a tournament and deliver by scoring in every single knockout match.
Players don't seal their already brilliant individual performances at World Cups with such emphatic punctuation, either.
Messi took home the Golden Ball at last year's men's tournament, but ultimately came up empty handed in the final.
Carli Lloyd delivered all tournament long and signed the package with a 56-yard goal from her own half.
Those things are just not supposed to happen.
Even Abby Wambach had her own magical goal-scoring run end in tears in 2011. Sometimes, dreams are just too perfect to come true, unless you're Carli Lloyd.
Lloyd said after the game,
I dreamed and visualized playing in a World Cup final and visualized scoring four goals.
Close enough. Her three goals marked the first time in Women's World Cup final history that a hat-trick was scored.
That is not normal. Carli Lloyd is not normal. She is a monster, and just another addition to the legacy of a state that has become a soccer powerhouse.
When it comes to producing big time players, there are no two ways about it: New Jersey is America's greatest soccer state.
You can argue the sheer number of professional products produced by other states, sure.
California, for instance, had the most natives in the US national team squad for the World Cup in Canada with six to Jersey's four.
But there's no debate when it comes to the heights that talent from the Garden State reaches or the star players' reputations for stealing the biggest headlines.
This summer, it was Delran and Rutgers' Carli Lloyd providing the greatest World Cup final performance of this century.
Last summer it was North Brunswick's Tim Howard, who once commanded the turf at Giants Stadium for the Red Bulls (née Metro Stars), showing how much he's worth to the national team.
And as Lloyd takes off her armband from yesterday's victory, Princeton's Michael Bradley slips his on to captain the US in Gold Cup action tomorrow.
Meanwhile, his father, former Princeton and Egypt coach Bob Bradley, stands a realistic chance at becoming the first American coach to win a European league as he sits just three points off first place and a potential Champions League spot in the Norwegian First Division with Stabæk.
Jozy Altidore would be the greatest product from Livingston, if it wasn't for Claudio Reyna, who became the first American player to captain a European club (Germany's Wolfsburg, in the 90s), before later captaining the US men to the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup, where he was named to the all-tournament team.
He, along with former teammate Tab Ramos, once a standout at Newark's St. Benedict's Prep, have legitimate claims to the best-player-in-history crown for the US men.
Alexi Lalas, another Rutgers product, told Elite Daily last summer:
Tab Ramos was a man out of time. Had he been born 10 years later, who knows what he could've done. At times I was embarrassed to be on the field with him because he was so much better than all of us. His explosiveness, his touch; for me he is without a doubt top three best American players to ever play the game.
And the list goes on.
Whether it's Kearny's John Harkes, the first American to play in the English Premier League; Point Pleasant's Christie Rampone, who set the record this month for the oldest Women's World Cup player (40) or even Teaneck's Giuseppe Rossi, who could be Italy's starting forward if it weren't for constant injuries, Jersey's record for producing big time players at the international level is unmatched.
And what it lacks in numbers it more than makes up for in high-quality talent; the type of talent that has a reputation of scoring in finals for fun.
So, yeah, Carli Lloyd took the headlines at the 2015 Women's World Cup, much like Tim Howard did the year before and much like Michael Bradley probably will do over the coming weeks.
At this point, you'd expect nothing less from America's greatest soccer state.