"It's a great memory that I have," said Lloyd, 30. "It is the biggest goal of my career so far."
But a lot has happened since then. After recovering from a broken ankle in 2010, Lloyd helped the U.S. squad to a second-place finish in the 2011 World Cup. After 4 years, Lloyd has matured physically and on the field.
"I'm a different player this time around," she said. "I'm way more fit and way more strong. I'm more confident with more experience. I really understand the game."
Lloyd was 26 in 2008 and says she relied primarily on her athletic ability to produce results. A center midfielder must be a leader and direct traffic on the field, so Lloyd worked diligently on her game, and the mental pieces have fallen into place.
"Now I'm really playing like a true center midfielder," Lloyd said. "Keeping the game simple, connecting passes, threading through-balls and getting myself in and around the box more often, which is good."
Lloyd and her teammates take pride in their preparation. They're in shape and deep and, because of that, few teams figure to be able to keep up with them for 90 minutes. Lloyd said she doesn't like to dwell in the past and it's clear her focus is on London. But she can't help but marvel at how far she has come since China.
"I still didn't believe in myself 100 percent," she said. "I wasn't sure if I was doing well, if I was being an impactful player. And then that goal came out of nowhere and I was in complete shock. It was just the most exciting time of my life."
The U.S. team enters the London Games as the prohibitive favorite. Since women's soccer was added as an Olympic sport in 1996, the U.S. has won gold three times and silver once.
This year's group features the same attacking style of play, and many of the same players who captured the nation's attention in the 2011 women's World Cup. That team fell short, losing in the final to a team from Japan that seemed destined to win only a few months after the country was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
"This team has always embraced the fact that we are the team to beat, and that there is pressure on us," Lloyd said. "We thrive under that pressure. We know what happened against Japan in the World Cup. We're looking for redemption — we want to go home with the gold medal."
The Americans open group play on Wednesday in Glasgow, Scotland, against a potent French team. Also in their group are Colombia and North Korea. For Lloyd, only one question remains: What do you do when you've already lived every athlete's dream?
"Whether I have another special moment like that, that would be fantastic, but at the end of the day just coming home with that gold medal again will be a dream come true," Lloyd said.
She knows firsthand all that can happen over a 4-year period, and she is intent on relishing what could be her last Olympic experience.
"I'm ready to show up in big moments, because that is what big players do," Lloyd said.
Contact Alex Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.