Detroit — They are in two points of their careers.
United States forward Carli Lloyd is the best player in the world. Sixteen-year-old Darline Radamacher is the best player on her travel team, the Michigan Gators Orange.
Radamacher saw dreams firsthand as she played against Lloyd in the second half of Thursday’s friendly at Ford Field between the United States and Haiti.
Advantage Lloyd, who led the United States with three goals in a 5-0 victory over Haiti.
But what a cool experience for Radamacher, a former Haitian orphan who now lives in Sterling Heights and is a member of the Michigan Gators travel squad and Utica Ford High’s team. It is a memory she will clutch forever or until she starts making her own memories on the pitch as a permanent member of the Haiti team.
It was a tale of two teams and a tale of two players who are in different stages of their development. The United States is established and easily the best team in the world. Haiti and Radamacher dream of playing at this level someday.
But give Radamacher time. She is young, inexperienced and star struck.
“It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I know I have a lot of work to do if I am going to get anywhere near where they are. It was fun and a great experience. I am definitely going to learn from it and take pride in how I played and benefit from it.”
Lloyd was not familiar with Radamacher’s story but was excited for her when she discovered someone so young was playing against her.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lloyd said. “I mean, there are not many players who can say they played against a World Cup team and I think it’s a great opportunity for her. It is something special and I am sure she will cherish it forever.”
The Victory Tour turned into a clinic for the United States.
There was little resistance as Haiti lacked the talent on short notice to keep up with the best team in the world. Many fans were expecting a competitive match but Australia remained on the other side of the globe because of a labor dispute that threatened the game.
Haiti stepped up and agreed to play the United States Thursday and again on Sunday in Birmingham, Ala.
The lopsided game did not seem to bother a crowd of 34,538 who came to see the World Cup champion Americans, still basking in the glory of their title in Canada. It was the largest soccer crowd in Ford Field history.
The United States ran its record to 16-1-3 this year with 13 shutouts. It’s 6-0-1 on home soil.
Lloyd, the World Cup Golden Ball winner who scored a hat trick in the championship game against Japan, did it again in Detroit. Two goals came off headers and the other off a penalty kick at the 32-minute mark. The other goals were scored by Christen Press and Crystal Dunn.
It was one-sided but no one was complaining. They came to celebrate Team USA, which returned the appreciation by showing young players how the game is played. The U.S. blitzed Haiti with short and mostly crisp passes and was deliberate in its attack.
One of the best players on the field was Dunn, who controlled the corners and peppered the net with crossing passes. Besides her late goal, she assisted on two of the others.
“You can’t please everybody,” Lloyd said. “It would have been great to play Australia, but they are not here. They are doing something great for women’s soccer in their country. It’s a good opportunity for Haiti to come and they get two quality games against us. We can still learn and get better.”
It was a wonderful learning experience for attacking midfielder Radamaker. She did not get to attack much. Instead she chased and learned from the Americans. Radamaker barely touched the ball, and the few times she did the Americans nudged her off the ball as she learned the difference between a girl’s strength and that of a woman.
Her strength on the young level is running the field and setting up teammates. It was difficult for her to do that on Thursday.
Afterward, Radamacher took photos with her Gator teammates, signed autographs and left beaming with a message for her teammates.
“It is letting them know we are all human and we are all striving to be better,” she said.
“We all love the game and it is just soccer.”
She got a loud applause when she appeared on the big screen late in the game
Her highlight came during the 54th minute when she stole a pass and it led to one of Haiti’s rare threats inside the American’s zone. But Haiti could not muster a shot on goal.
That’s the way it went most of the night but Radamacher, but she did not walk off the field as a loser. She learned much and will probably be more dangerous on soccer fields around the state.
“This is just amazing,” she said.