Ali Krieger is calling it a career. He wants to win them on his way out.

Since it began nearly two decades ago, Ali Krieger’s soccer career has taken him to more places than he can remember: dozens of countries, three World Cups and at least two operating rooms.

But his career will end this year, he announced on Thursday, if not before a final challenge that will be far from the glory of lifting the league and World Cup trophies. Before she leaves, Krieger, 38, wants to turn around her club team, Gotham FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, after a season she’d like to forget.

“It was awesome,” Krieger said of last season, his first with the club. “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team that finished last.”

Last season’s champion, the Portland Thorns, and regular season winner, the OL Reign, are favorites to succeed. the new NWSL season opening this weekend. But Krieger, a running back, said he was determined to help Gotham turn it around in a year when the team started 4-8, fired its coach and never won again. Ten games. Nine losses. not funny

“We were so happy because we didn’t understand our roles and responsibilities,” Krieger said. “No one knew what we were supposed to do on the field.”

He said in an interview last week that he was hopeful that this year would be better and that a revival could be achieved under the team’s new Spanish coach, Juan Carlos Amorós.

“I don’t say this lightly,” Krieger said. “I have played for some of the best coaches in the world. It is the last package. I have never seen so many players so happy, whether they are playing every minute or not.

“Everyone understands the ‘why’. Why you do every little thing in training or in your specific position on the field.”

Gotham scored 16 goals in their 22 games last season, and not a single player had more than three, not a recipe for success. To combat this obvious weakness, the team added Lynn Williams, who has scored 15 goals for the women’s national team. But Krieger said the onus isn’t just on the forwards to score goals, and the team has also added defender Kelley O’Hara and midfielder Allie Long, two other players with deep national team experience. They, and Krieger, should give the team a little more organization and a little more connection on the field.

That said, Krieger admitted: “Adding Lynn Williams to any team, you’re 100 percent better.”

Despite his last season, Krieger said he was confident the NWSL, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, was on the right track after being marred by a wide-ranging abuse scandal that affected multiple clubs.

“It’s definitely better,” he said. “Now we have the supports and the properties and the club officials who really care. We are no longer considered a charity. This is a business.”

While acknowledging that the pinnacle of her career was being part of the World Cup-winning teams in 2015 and 2019, Krieger said: “I’m more of a club girl than a country girl.” One of his most memorable moments, he says, was in his first season in Europe, winning the Champions League and winning the treble with a then-known German team. FFC Frankfurt.

“I didn’t realize it was that important at the time,” Krieger said of his club’s early success. “I never saw many European women’s teams play. I couldn’t go online and watch the Bundesliga.”

There is much from the European model, he said, that could be valuable to the NWSL, including an emphasis on developing the next talent.

“I played with 15- and 16-year-olds,” he said. “I remember Svenja Huth” – now the main pillar of the German national team -, “he was 16 years old playing his first game in the Champions League in front of me.

“That model is something we would achieve in the future. I don’t know if we have the infrastructure to do that in every club yet, but we are getting it.”

The style of playing on the European pitch is also different, he said. American teams often rely on an athletic edge, and pace and pressure, rather than a technical approach.

“In Europe, the players are very technical and skilled,” Krieger said. “They tend to play smarter, not harder. We are trying to bring that kind of mentality here. Kicking long and running, constantly pressing, will not always be the best style.

“Our young players have the technical ability and skill to do both. It’s exciting to see the future coming and mixing the two styles.”

For Krieger, retirement will mean more time with his growing family — he married former teammate Ashlyn Harris in 2019, and the couple has two children, ages 2 and 8 months — and possibly a place. trustee of his alma materPenn State.

But that will come after one last season. After that, he said, he’ll be happy to leave the next steps — and the fight for more wins, safer workplaces and equal pay — to the players who come after him.

“We had to fight tooth and nail,” he said of the struggles of his era and previous players. “To even have a voice, we had to win. This sparked a different mentality in our generation. We were a bunch of psychos out there. I don’t know if I’ve seen that kind of urgency from the younger players yet, because they grew up in a different era.

“It’s not better or worse. But that piece of mentality is the next step in creating the winning path we have opened for them. To keep winning, that mentality, that urgency, determination and passion will have to be instilled. Every day.”

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