Making her National Team debut in 2008, Ali Krieger soon became the face of the right back position for the United States Women’s National Team. The 2011 Women’s World Cup was just the icing on the cake for her. Krieger began to show her talent by mixing her European experience with her National Team skills to become one of the greatest attacking defenders in the world. Unfortunately, a serious knee injury during the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament caused Krieger to be sidelined this past year with the National Team.
After five years with FFC Frankfurt in Germany, Krieger has decided to return to the States to continue her career with the United States Women’s National Team and the Washington Spirit. It’s safe to say 2013 is going to be Krieger’s year, so how about we start this year off right and get to know the Spirit’s Defender, Ali Krieger?
Ali, first off how’s it feel to be back in the states?
It feels really good. It’s refreshing and I am ready for a fresh start. I’m already feeling a lot happier to be home and I guess towards the end of my time in Germany I knew I needed a change. The year was so tiring and exhausting for me that this was the perfect timing for me to change gears and do something new.
We know you have battled some serious injuries, including your most recent with your MCL and ACL injury, what kept you motivated during your rehabilitation?
To be honest, the National Team. They were constantly sending me emails, tweets or messages doing the game. They really kept me motivated to want to get back, but also my younger fans and actually just my fans in general. They were amazing throughout my entire process of rehab and I couldn’t thank them enough. But little did they know they inspired me so much to want to get back. I received letters from all across the world saying how much I inspired them to want to be better and be good players. You know you don’t realize that until someone writes you, so having the support of the fans, the National Team, and US Soccer was unreal. I was so thankful and grateful for them.
You have played in both the Bundesliga and the WPS, can you share some your experiences with these leagues?
Ones not better than the other, it’s just different and different style of plays. Playing in Germany in the Bundesliga it wasn’t necessarily a “kick and run” like it is here. I mean we love to run and can run for days because we are a little bit more athletic as a group. In the Bundesliga, you have quick touches, it’s simple and the game is quick with high pressure. I don’t think that in the US we necessarily do that unless we have to. I think it’s just different styles of play and I was excited to learn the European style of play. Now I mix my US style and the European style and kind of made it my own. I learned a lot and I was very fortunate to play in both of the leagues at such a high level. Both of them have pros and cons about their leagues, but no league is better than the other.
You were recently allocated to the Washington Spirit, congratulations on that, what is the one thing you are looking forward to the most with the Spirit?
What I am look forward to most is being able to have that fresh start. I am really looking forward to playing with this group and playing in the US again. I have always dreamt of doing that, so I think just that in itself is exciting to me. Also, to be a leader for this team and I think starting something new is what I need. Being a part of this makes me want to do everything I can to help make it survive and that’s what I am looking forward to.
What does a league like the NWSL do for women’s soccer in the states?
I honestly really believe in this league and this time around. I know it’s the third time but this league is bigger than ourselves. We are very fortunate to have something for our youth teams to fall into and have a dream of playing in the states. When I was younger, I always had that dream of playing in the US league. I feel like we can start something so great and I think about the fans and I think about my family. You don’t necessarily just play for yourself or your family and friends, you also play for the fans and you play for the young kids that look up to you. I think building something that they are able to be inspired by and hopeful that they can play in the same league is something we should be happy about. I hope I can influence young kids and inspire them to want to play in this league itself.
I also think that internationally you see in the World Cup or the Olympics that we aren’t the only team that’s good anymore, everyone is catching up. It’s about playing nine months out of the year, that’s why I went back to the Germany league, because I was sitting here for three weeks after the World Cup wondering what I should do. As professional players you have to play and every week it’s about getting those games in to stay game fit and stay at the highest level possible because everyone else is doing it. If we are all only meeting once or twice out of the month, that’s not good enough. I think US Soccer saw there was nothing for the full team, the National Team, and a lot of really good players just fall off because we need something in between. I think that’s also why this will be something that’s great.
Do you think the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, can impact the success of marketing this league?
Oh yeah, for sure! After the World Cup we were sitting there and I only had like three followers. After that I went from 7,000 to about 15-20,000 in a matter of a couple weeks. From then on US Soccer said you guys are media, start tweeting. Now it’s like this huge thing and fans just like to know what’s going on and it’s the faster information. I think it’s great, it’s wonderful to see what everyone else is doing, to keep in touch with people and to keep our fans involved. I try to keep my private life out of it because we are public figures, but other than that Twitter and Facebook are great.
Alright Ali, enough with the serious questions let’s get some fun ones in here, shall we? If you could choose any three players, male or female, to play pick-up soccer with whom would they be?
Oh gosh, this is a tough question. I really only get three, I have more than three. Alright, so I would take:
Mats Hummels, Germany/Dortmund
Lionel Messi, Argentina/Barcelona
Michael Essien, Ghana/Real Madrid (He plays for Real now. Unfortunately!)
Manuel Neuer, Germany/Bayern Munich
Christine Sinclair, Canada/Portland Thorns
Megan Rapinoe, United States/Seattle Reign FC
Almost everyone has that one song or songs that get them pumped up for a game. Do you have one or few that really get you game ready?
I mean it changes a lot, but I have to listen to Hip Hop and R&B, or Dance. It has to be like club music, it’s difficult though because it’s always changing. I love music and I can listen to anything from Country to Alternative. But for pre-game it’s always Hip Hop, R&B, Rap, and Dance. Right now, I really like Don’t Judge Me by Chris Brown, it’s the remix one. I really like Macklemore right now too.
Okay, I am going to fire off some random “would you rather” questions choose the answer you would most likely pick:
Oh, I am really good at this game.
Chelsea or Man U?
Chelsea. No Brainer.
Drogba or Messi?
MLS or EPL?
R&B or Country?
RGIII with Baylor or RGIII with Redskins?
RGIII with Redskins
Alright, we have two final questions from some Twitter followers …
@P_197 asked: If you could put one of your Frankfurt teammates on the Spirit, who would you choose?
Dzsenifer Marozsán. She’s the best player in the world to me. She’s so good and she’s only 21. She’s the most loving, caring human being ever.
@crackerjacks127 asked: Washington looks like it is easily the strongest team defensively, how important is it to find a strong forward partnership?
I am hoping that they are really going to look for Forwards because we obviously need one. But I am so happy with our defensive line so far. It all just depends on how you bring it out on the field. Of course it could look different than what it says on paper. It all just depends on how you work it out and put it out on the field. But yes, we need a forward.
@XPretzelX asked: Has Mittsy ever pranked you?
(Laughs) Not yet. She’s tried to scare me, but she hasn’t pranked me yet. Since I missed out last year, the teams got some making up to do. I just sit back, watch them get pranked, shake my head, and laugh.
A very big thank you to Ali Krieger for taking time out of her busy schedule to do this interview, I look forward to seeing you back on the pitch in the near future. Remember to follow Ali Krieger and the Washington Spirit in their upcoming season. Fans, you can follow all of the Spirit action on Twitter @WashSpirit or follow Ali personally at @AlexBKrieger. Make sure to show your support.