Ali Krieger made the leap into the main stream after coolly slotting home the 5th and decisive penalty in the infamous quarterfinal against Brazil. Having played most of her professional career in Germany (she is back with FFC Frankfurt), she might have gone under the casual fans radar, but as a rock at right back, Krieger has been a mainstay on the USWNT for the past year.
A super sharp, confident, intelligent woman on and off the field, Ali Krieger was gracious enough to take time from her well deserved break to talk to us at TSG.
Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.
TSG: You were one of 4 players to play every single minute this past World Cup and you’ve been played 25 or so games with the USWNT, do you feel that you have cemented a place on the team for the upcoming Olympics?
Ali Krieger: Yeah lets hope so. I think if I can stay fit and healthy, I don’t see a reason to keep me of the roster, but playing wise you never know what could happen, so I don’t want to say that my spot is “cemented”, even though some of the players tell me that. I don’t want to get complacent, so I need to continue working hard and playing at my best and hopefully that will continue to allow me to play in the right back position.
TSG: I imagine the World Cup was a different experience for you then the other girls. How was coming back to Germany? Was it like coming home?
AK: It was amazing and so comfortable. I was so happy once we landed that I had a big smile on my face and I felt like I was back home. I was made to feel so welcomed by the fans. I was excited to be back in football country and it was all an amazing feeling.
TSG: Your last name in German means “Warrior “and you appropriately plied your tough swashbuckling style in Europe and are one of the only USWNT players to do so. Can you tell us about your experience with FFC Frankfurt?
AK: It was a stepping stone that helped get to where I am today and I will always be grateful and loyal to the club. In 3 and a half years, they have prepared me to be able to play in the past World Cup by making me a better person and player.
My perspective on life has changed since living there as I had to learn a new language and culture. It was such a cool experience that I will never forget and hopefully one day, maybe in the near future continue to be a part off.
TSG: Would you recommend playing in Europe to any of the younger or even veteran USWNT players?
AK: I tell them everyday that it’s amazing and every time they ask me how it is or if I recommend it I say “of course”. Look at how much I’ve changed as a player and how much more comfortable I’ve gotten on the ball. My technical and tactical abilities have grown from being in Germany, which to me is the “football country”. In Europe in general, it’s the number one sport and I think everyone should have that experience and to be a part of it. It’s been unreal for me and I know everyone would enjoy it as well.
TSG: For the most part, it’s the desire for most male players to play on a Champions league team. Is the women’s Champions League held in a similar high regard?
AK: Of course. The Champions League is right under World Cup in terms of a tournament that everyone wants to play in and be part off, and is the highest level of club football. I think the most important part about playing with a club team is that you get to train day in and day out. You can’t treat the national team like a club team cause that’s not why it’s there and what it’s about. I think everyone should have the experience playing with a club and playing in important games every weekend. This year there is the Champions League, the DFB cup (German domestic cup), and Bundesliga all together. That is a lot of highly competitive games that one has to compete in week in and week out, and that experience can only make one a better player.
TSG: Where would you say is the prominent or prestigious league that most women want to play in? Is it the WPS or is it in Europe?
AK: Well I’m going to be a little biased, but the German league could be the top league as off right now. Unfortunately the German national team lost in the quarters so it might be hard for them to lay claim as the best league. I think Sweden, England and Germany all have very good leagues, and then you have Lyon who just won the Champions League this past year. I’m not all together familiar with the rest of the French club teams, but I know that Lyon is a very good team with a great training atmosphere that seems indicative of the rest of the league.
TSG: One hears stories that a lot of the South American Soccer federations are not very supportive of their women’s teams. Do you feel that there is an increase in support in the US and in Europe?
AK: It’s getting better as you can see in the increased number of teams in the World Cup qualifiers as well as teams like Columbia at the World Cup. I think it’s growing, but it will take time. Countries aren’t immediately going to all of a sudden put money toward their women’s football teams. Look at Brazil who barely get any support and they are one of the best teams in the world, though they will be hosting the Olympics in 2016 so they will probably put in some money toward the women’s national team, but unfortunately I don’t think they will ever get the same support as the men’s teams.