More Than A Soccer Player: Ali Krieger Announces Retirement
Gotham F.C. defender and former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team player Ali Krieger announced Thursday that she will retire from professional soccer following the end of the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season.
Krieger broke the news in a CBS Mornings segment, sharing confidence in the decision’s timing.
“I think as an athlete where you hear before a lot of athletes say ‘you just know the right time,’ and I feel that this is the right time for me,” Krieger said to CBS. “I’ve given so much to the game and I’ve gotten a lot in return. But I feel it, my body also feels it.”
Now entering her 17th season of professional soccer, this might be an understatement.
Krieger began her career in Germany with FFC Frankfurt as a 23-year-old fresh out of Penn State, where she played from 2003 to 2007. In August 2007, she joined FFC Frankfurt in the Frauen-Bundesliga and won a UEFA women’s cup in her first season.
Following 10 appearances for WPS team Washington Freedom in the summer of 2009, Krieger returned to her Frankfurt club from 2009 through 2012. She was also becoming a regular call-up to the USWNT, receiving her first international cap on Jan. 16, 2008, during the Four Nations Tournament against Canada.
Krieger was part of the 2011 USWNT World Cup roster that lost in the final to Japan. Her iconic game-winning penalty kick against Brazil was what pushed the team into the semifinals of the tournament after an epic back-and-forth match with the South American powerhouse.
Perhaps one of the toughest moments of her career, Krieger suffered from a torn ACL and MCL as well as a meniscus tear in her right knee during the 2012 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament. She then missed the 2012 Olympics in which the national team captured their fourth Olympic gold.
After a brief stint with Swedish club Tyresö FF in 2013, Krieger was allocated to the Washington Spirit to begin her run with the NWSL. She served as captain of her home state’s team through 2016, scoring two goals and earning one assist as a defender. The club also reached the NWSL finals in 2016 but ultimately lost to the Western New York Flash.
Between her time with Washington, Krieger was the starting left back for the USWNT. She was part of the backline that carried the team to a World Cup title in 2015. While the team didn’t make it past the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics, Krieger made her Olympic debut and finally secured the dream she’d missed out on in 2012.
Krieger joined USWNT teammates Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris on the Orlando Pride in 2016. She was named to the 2017 NWSL Best XI and was a consistent starter for the team throughout her six years there. A hotbed for women’s soccer, Orlando had some of the top-recorded attendance numbers in the NWSL.
Shortly after earning her 100th cap with the USWNT in May 2019, Krieger was named to the 2019 World Cup roster. She became a two-time World Cup Champion, as the squad defeated the Netherlands 2-1 to win their fourth star.
In December 2021, Krieger and Harris were both traded to NJ/NY Gotham F.C. Harris, her wife, retired after the 2022 NWSL season and Krieger will finish out her career with the club as well. The pair have two young children, who they say they look forward to spending more time with during their post-professional soccer eras.
“She's really taking on a supportive role,” Krieger said about Harris. “Anything that I need in order to show up every day to be me, that's what she's doing. But yes, she's already counting down the days until November, hopefully after the final, that we can just have some time as a family.”
Advocating off the field
If there’s one thing Krieger wants to be remembered for, it's for her care for others off the soccer field. A long-time advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Krieger is an ambassador for Athlete Ally, a non-profit that focuses on LGBTQ+ inclusion in sports. More recently, she partnered with Strava in their Strive for More campaign that aims to increase visibility for women in sports.
“I want to be remembered as a good person, first and foremost, a great teammate and somebody who can leave the game better than where I found it, which is creating or helping to create a safe environment for players to live their authentic life and be able to show up to work and feel seen and valued and appreciated,” Krieger said.
Krieger was also part of the USWNT’s equal pay fight that began in 2016 when the group sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for paying the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team almost four times more than the women’s team. The mission ended last year when two new collective bargaining agreements were signed to allow for equal compensation for both sides in any competition.
Her outspokenness on social media also must be noted, as Krieger has never shied away from using her platform to elevate marginalized voices and bring awareness to major issues.
“I want to leave the game better than where I found it,” Krieger said in the CBS interview. “I really believe that I’ve used my voice and my platform to try to impact future generations that are going to follow in our footsteps.”
While Krieger hasn’t explicitly stated her plans for retirement, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find her staying involved in the soccer world. During her time in Orlando, she served as an analyst for Orlando City’s broadcast team. She also has a U.S. Soccer "C" license, which would allow her to coach soccer if she wished.
For now, Krieger says her excitement for retirement has not overshadowed her focus on soccer. She was named captain of Gotham F.C. for the 2023 season and is looking to win an NWSL Championship — one of the few honors in her career she hasn’t won yet.
“I was really happy to hear that my teammates wanted me to be in this position,” Krieger said. “I know it's a direct reflection of how successful your team can be, and so I don't take that lightly. I am going to do everything in my power both on and off the field, to put our team in the best position to be successful and win a championship, because that is the goal every single year.”