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Midfielder Holiday plans to retire from U.S. women’s national team

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  • United States' Lauren Holiday headed the ball above Japan's Nahomi Kawasumi during the first half of the FIFA Women's World Cup soccer championship in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

LOS ANGELES » Midfielder Lauren Holiday plans to retire from the U.S. national team following its World Cup victory, ending an eight-year career that included two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup championship.

Holiday disclosed her plans Tuesday after a victory rally for the Americans in downtown Los Angeles.

"This isn’t something that happened overnight," Holiday said. "This is something I’ve prayed about for a couple of years now. But my goal was to win an NWSL championship and a World Cup, and I did it."

The Indianapolis native and UCLA product has scored 24 goals in 130 games with the U.S. team since making her senior debut in January 2007. She won gold in Beijing and London while playing a steady midfield role for the American team.

"I know this is where I was supposed to be for so many years, and I know that I gave my all to soccer, to the sport, to this team," Holiday said. "I’m excited for a new chapter in my life, and I feel like this team isn’t my identity. It’s my choice. I think there’s power in making a choice. I chose this team for 10 years, and now I’m going to choose my family."

Holiday is married to Jrue Holiday, a guard for the New Orleans Pelicans. They went to school together at UCLA.

Holiday also plays for FC Kansas City in the NWSL, and she intends to finish out her league season. She was the league MVP in 2013 and won the title last year.

Holiday scored the Americans’ third goal in their 5-2 victory over Japan on Sunday, wrapping up their first World Cup title since 1999. Coach Jill Ellis sparked talk of Holiday’s possible retirement during a celebration in Vancouver on Monday, and Holiday tearfully confirmed her plans after the first stop in a long victory tour for the Americans.

"She doesn’t get as much recognition as she deserves," U.S. captain Christie Rampone said of Holiday. "She had to play a different role in this tournament. It wasn’t necessarily where she wanted to play, but she knew that for this team to win a World Cup and to be successful, she had to take that back seat and take a role, and she did it well."

Holiday thinks the U.S. team will be fine in midfield without her. Golden Ball winner Carli Lloyd already said she hopes to play in another World Cup in four years, while 22-year-old Morgan Brian is likely to take on a major role.

Brian got into the U.S. starting lineup in the quarterfinals when Holiday sat out for an accumulation of yellow cards. She stayed in the lineup to form a dangerous midfield trio with Holiday and Lloyd, culminating in the blowout victory over Japan.

The trio scored four of the Americans’ five goals, and Brian assisted on the fifth.

"I think you guys are going to see a star in Morgan Brian," Holiday said. "I think she’s unbelievable. She’s mature beyond her years on the field, and sophisticated. I think you just saw a glimpse of what she can bring to a team. I’m excited to see her grow the next four years."

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