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U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM

July 16, 2011
RIGHT AT HOME
Krieger looks forward to final in Frankfurt

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Ali Krieger has one more word of German she wants to share with her USA teammates: “Weltmeister“ -- World Champions.
Ali Krieger has one more word of German she wants to share with her USA teammates: “Weltmeister“ -- World Champions.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
A quick look down the U.S. Women’s National Team roster and one thing in particular stands out. Ali Krieger’s club. While every other player in the U.S. squad plies their trade in Women’s Professional Soccer, Krieger has spent the last three years playing in Germany. Frankfurt, to be specific. On Sunday, when the U.S. team steps out onto the field at Commerzbank Arena, it will be a very familiar feeling for the native of Dumfries, Va. She has played her professional soccer on that pitch for the last three years.

“I think that arena can only bring me luck, because when I played with FFC, Frankfurt for the UEFA Cup final in 2008, we beat Umea, which Marta was actually a part of that time,” said the 26-yer old defender. “We won. I think it’s going to bring us some luck.”

During her time in Germany, Krieger has won, a lot. In 2008, Frankfurt won the treble, taking the Bundesliga title and the German Cup before going on to be crowned UEFA Champions. Earlier this year, Frankfurt again won the German Cup, a 2-1 win over Potsdam Turbine in front of more than 20,000 fans.

“It’s a dream come true,” Krieger said of playing in the final at her club team’s home stadium. “I thought it was possible for us to be in the final, but actually living it and really enjoying it with the team, it’s a bit of a different story.

“It’s definitely a dream come true for me, especially living here for the past three and a half years and enjoying Frankfurt, showing the girls around a little bit.”

It was Krieger’s tiebreaker penalty kick against Brazil that gave the U.S. their spot in the semifinal game, and though her celebration was not as memorable as Brandi Chastain’s, 12 years to the day earlier, the goal was no less significant, and Krieger hopes fans look at it that way.

“We are a bit different from the ‘99 team that won the World Cup,” Krieger said. “Obviously we have full respect for them, and they paved the way for us. Without question we look up to all those players, including Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and Kristie Lilly and so. Each one of us have so much respect for them.

“We are a different team, we are a different generation and we are in a different time. I think at that point, no one can repeat that in that sense, because it is a different team. We are trying to write our own story and make this our own gold medal and write a new story for U.S. Soccer to enjoy and women’s football around the world to enjoy.”

Krieger has been writing her own story all along the way. After playing almost her entire youth career under the coaching of her father, Ken Krieger, at the Prince William Sparklers, she was an all-state in high school and a four-year starter at Penn State, a two time All-America selection who led the Nittany Lions to four straight Big Ten titles.

She signed with Frankfurt right out of school, and although drafted by the Washington Freedom, she was initially unavailable due to her contract in Germany, then missed part of the season due to an ankle injury. Once fit, she did see action in ten games with the Freedom in 2009, but did not return for the 2010 season. Although she is currently out of contract, it is likely she will return to Germany for the upcoming season.

Though initially not prepared for what she found there, she has settled in.

“There is obviously a culture shock,” she said of moving to Germany at a time when she spoke not a word of German.

“The one biggest difference is how direct the people are in Germany, and you have to have a bit of tough skin because they are direct, they’re honest and obviously now I’ve grown used to that and I actually like it. They just tell it like it is.”

Now, there is a word in German, Krieger perhaps hopes to teach to all her U.S. teammates. Weltmeister—World Champions.
   
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