DEAUVILLE, France — There was a moment during the United States’ 3-0 win against Chile during which some fans among the announced crowd of 45,594 started chanting, “Ali Krieger! Ali Krieger!”
She couldn’t really hear it at the time, being so focused on tracking back on defense to thwart an attack. But her brother tweeted about it that night, calling the chant “his favorite song,” and reporters asked her how it felt after the match.
“You’re just hearing people scream and yell, and you’re so focused,” said Krieger, a 34-year-old defender who a few months ago thought she’d never make a USWNT appearance again, never mind start in a World Cup. “I just want to do my job and help this team win. I’m fully focused out on the field; I’m not listening to anything else that’s happening. But, ya know, I needed to make a defensive play, and I just did what I normally do and was successful at that time.”
Krieger said she felt rewarded by starting in that match. U.S. coach Jill Ellis made seven changes to the typical starting XI she uses. Krieger started at right back and shifted to centerback late in the game when Emily Sonnet subbed in.
Krieger said Ellis and assistant coach Tony Gustavsson have praised her performances since the team arrived in England for a pre-World Cup training camp 10 days before the tournament.
“I was really exciting, and I felt like because I’ve been playing well in training that I was awarded in a way,” Krieger said. “And I appreciate that.”
She added the coaches “mentioned that I have been playing really well and that this is the best they’ve seen me in a really long time, so that’s really really good for me to hear.”
crowd: *chants "ALI KRIEGER"*
me: I love this song
— Kyle Krieger (@kylekrieger) June 16, 2019
Krieger said she’ll continue to do what she’s done the last two years — stay ready. But when she gets on the field, she doesn’t think about the long road she took back to the national team or the injuries and struggles she faced to get there.
“When you’re going through the national anthem, you’re walking out, you see all the fans, it feels really good,” Krieger said. “It just feels like I jumped right back in. It’s where I should be. And I’m happy to be in the 23 and help when I need to help, and do my job and do it well. So once I’m called upon, I don’t really think about that because that’s in the past. I’m kind of just looking forward.”