Carli Lloyd: ‘Not afraid to step up’

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: In this March 2018 file photo, Team USA soccer player Carli Lloyd hoists the trophy as the team celebrates after winning the She Believes Cup, 1-0, against England at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Fla. Lloyd may pursue a career in the NFL as a kicker. Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service

PHILADELPHIA – We still don’t know exactly which NFL team invited Carli Lloyd to play with them, but the Delran, Pennsylvania, native’s enthusiasm for the idea hasn’t waned.

“I really do think that I’m not afraid to step up in front of the whole world and actually do it,” Lloyd said at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday, ahead of the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory tour game there against Portugal on Thursday night (7 p.m., Fox Sports 1). “I’ve always been like that from a little girl. I’ve never cared about going up against boys or whatnot.”

Lloyd acknowledged she still has work to do to prepare for the possibility, starting with the mechanics of NFL-style kicking. She took a soccer-style run-up to her 55-yard field goal at a recent Eagles-Ravens joint practice that went viral.

“First and foremost I want to go out there and take a try to take a two-step kick to make sure that I can actually do that,” she said. “If I can actually do that from a good distance, then I would feel a lot more comfortable.”

And there is the rather big – literally – matter of opposing teams running at her.

“There’s challenges as far as being with all males and a locker room. There’s a whole range of things, and I get that,” she said. “Three hundred pounds coming at me. … I’d probably try to give my best shot. I don’t know. I might be in the hospital after that. We’ll see. First I’ve got to get out on the field and attempt to do it, and then we’ll go from there.”

Lloyd has support from U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who volunteered to be her agent.

“I think 100% she could do it,” Ellis said “I think she’s got the steel internally, and I think she’s got the range in her leg. … I think it’s very cool.”

Julie Ertz, who knows plenty about football, too, also backed Lloyd.

“Oh my gosh, I loved it,” Ertz said. “I want to see the entire team and see how well they do.”

Julie Ertz, by the way, will be playing on husband Zach Ertz’s field for the first time in her career.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “(Since) the second they told me I was going to be here, I’ve had a grin on my face, smiling, talking to Zach about it. … I never thought this was going to be a possibility.”

Zach won’t be here, even though he probably won’t play in the Philadelphia Eagles’ preseason finale Thursday night at the New York Jets.

Four players have been ruled out of Thursday’s game. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle are injured, and Ali Krieger has been excused for a personal commitment.

Fox Sports 1 will televise the game, with pregame coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. Kickoff is set for 7:05.