Photo Credit: Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos
Ali Krieger spent the majority of the last two months away from the Washington Spirit living a lifelong dream: becoming an Olympian. After a disappointing loss on penalty kicks to Sweden in the quarterfinals earlier this month in Brazil, the Dumfries, Virginia native quickly turned her attention to what’s next: captaining the Spirit as the team makes a championship push.
Krieger was the first Olympian to return to her NWSL club, making her post-Olympics debut in her team’s makeup match against the Houston Dash on Thursday, August 18, just six days after the quarterfinals in Brazil. Despite the short turnaround, Krieger said it was important for her to return and help out the team she captains in any way possible.
“I love this team and would do anything to help it be successful,” she said. “I did not want to sit and watch our match versus Houston if I could physically be there. We want to win the Championship, and I wanted to be there if I could.”
The 2015 Women’s World Cup Champion has been with the Spirit since the inaugural NWSL season in 2013, and has seen the lows of struggling through the 8th place 2013 finish, as well as the highs of making the playoffs the last two years. While both previous playoff appearances came from 4th place finishes, this season the Spirit now sits three points clear in first place following the win in Houston with just five games left in the regular season.
“We took a big step forward,” the defender said after the Houston game. “We needed those three points because we were a game behind everyone. Hopefully we’ll continue to win and keep the streak going and be back in Houston October 9th [for the NWSL Championship].”
The Spirit captain has represented the United States at the most prestigious tournaments in the world, including the most recent Olympic Games and two FIFA Women’s World Cups, but coming home to the Spirit holds no less significance to her.
“It’s simple – I view the NWSL and my club football as just as important as the U.S. Women’s National Team,” said the longtime USWNT right back. “I really want to be a part of the success here and hopefully win the Championship.”
Ali Krieger and the Spirit will look to further themselves from the rest of the NWSL field against Orlando Pride on Friday August 26th in Orlando at 7:30 p.m. The team returns to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday September 3rd to take on Western New York Flash at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at tickets.washingtonspirit.com