Orlando Pride right back Ali Krieger’s experience paved the way for her return to the U.S. women’s national team.
Krieger, as well as her Pride teammates Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan, were all named to the U.S. women’s national team roster for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. The 23-player roster was announced Thursday.
“What I know about Ali Krieger is no moment is ever going to be too big for her,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said during a conference call. “I think as a coach, when you get down to this point, the psychological piece is also part of your consideration when you look at players.”
Krieger’s inclusion on the roster is a bit of a surprise considering the 34-year-old USWNT and Pride veteran spent nearly two years away from the national team before getting called up in March ahead of friendlies against Australia and Belgium. She played a full 90 minutes in the match against Belgium, earning her 99th cap.
Krieger adds veteran depth at right back with first-choice right back Kelly O’Hara still recovering from offseason ankle surgery, though Ellis said she anticipates O’Hara being ready in time for the competition in France.
“I’ve worked really hard these past few years,” Krieger told USSoccer.com
“Not playing at the Tournament of Nations in 2017 was bit of kick in the butt for me and it helped me reset my goals and sparked the incentive to try to get back on the national team and play at the highest level again because I knew that I could. I honestly just put my head down and worked on the things I needed to get fitter, faster and stronger, and basically stay ready. I knew there would be another opportunity, or at least a small chance, and I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared for that chance.”
Ellis clearly rated experience highly while selecting the 23-player roster for the World Cup — she said Krieger, who will travel to her third World Cup this summer, has a level of savvy that comes with being a veteran.
“As I look across there, when Kelly was out and obviously coming back off the ankle surgery and the little setback that she had, yes, I did look at, ‘OK, what other experienced players do we have?'” Ellis said.
“Again, I can’t say enough about it, if suddenly, if you’re thrust into a game with 15 minutes left in a game, you’ve got to make sure that the moment doesn’t get too big for these players and I think that is part of the considering. I think Krieger’s experience and knowing her mental makeup was certainly a part of 1) bringing her back into camp and 2) just what she can bring both on and off the field was important, as well.”
Morgan and Harris have long been considered locks to make the squad. Morgan — who recently scored her 100th international goal — is one of the most potent attacking threats in the women’s game and Harris has been a consistent part of the team’s goalkeeper pool.
“Selecting a World Cup team is a long process, and I want to thank the players – the ones that made the final team and the ones that didn’t – for all of their hard work over the past two and a half years,” Ellis said in a statement. “They all pushed each other in every training session and every game and challenged the coaches to make some tough decisions. These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it’s a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup.”
All three Pride players are Women’s World Cup veterans and all three were part of the squad that won the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The trio trained with the Pride at the Seminole Soccer Complex on Wednesday, but they will soon report to the national team.
The U.S. players will train together ahead of a series of May friendlies that will prepare the team before the international competition in France, which begins June 7. The May friendlies, dubbed the Send-Off Series, are against South Africa on May 12, New Zealand on May 16 and Mexico on May 26.
The Americans opens the 2019 Women’s World Cup against on June 11 against Thailand.
U.S. Women’s World Cup roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch* (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris** (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher** (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper* (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson* (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn* (NC Courage), Ali Krieger*** (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara*** (Utah Royals FC), Becky Sauerbrunn*** (Utah Royals FC), Emily Sonnett* (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian** (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz** (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan* (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle* (Washington Spirit), Allie Long* (Reign FC), Samantha Mewis* (NC Courage)
FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath*** (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd**** (Sky Blue FC), Jessica McDonald* (NC Courage), Alex Morgan*** (Orlando Pride), Christen Press** (Utah Royals FC), Mallory Pugh* (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe*** (Reign FC)
* First Women’s World Cup
** Second Women’s World Cup
*** Third Women’s World Cup
**** Fourth Women’s World Cup