ORLANDO, Fla. — Ali Krieger’s first national team call-up in nearly two years came as a surprise.
United States women’s national team coach Jill Ellis texted Krieger a couple of days ago to see if she was available to talk. Krieger had just wrapped up the first of two training sessions with the Orlando Pride and told the coach she could talk that evening. Thursday, the result of that conversation was revealed to everyone else, when the USWNT announced Krieger was part of a 24-player roster called into camp ahead of two April friendlies.
“It means everything to me,” Krieger said. “Honestly, I’m so ready and willing to do whatever is asked of me. Jill and I had a good conversation on the phone a few nights ago. I feel really confident and I’m just ready to help the team be successful. Whatever that is, I’m ready to do that.”
The friendlies are against Australia on April 4 and Belgium on April 7. Krieger last played for the U.S. against Russia in April 2017.
The Women’s World Cup in France is looming, though Krieger said she’s not thinking that far ahead just yet. She’s been capped 98 times for the USWNT.
“Obviously, I’m taking it one day at a time,” Krieger said. “I can’t think too far ahead. It’s been two years since I’ve been back. I need to just focus on being a good teammate, being a good person in that environment, be a good player, perform well, and then we’ll start thinking about the next steps.
“I’m just so excited for the opportunity to be back with the team. I would run through a brick wall for this team and the coaching staff. So, it’s just an honor to have that opportunity again. I don’t try and think too far ahead. What I always do, and what I always have done is be professional, give it my best. I’m good at what I do. I will, obviously, bring some kind of leadership. A new mentality, maybe. You know, help with the younger players as a veteran as much as I can. That’s what I want to bring.”
When the U.S. was in Tampa March 5 for a SheBelieves Cup match against Brazil, Ellis was asked if she’d put any thought into calling Krieger back to the team. At the time, Ellis said she hadn’t thought about players outside of the group she had.
Still, Krieger, 34, was hopeful she’d get another chance to represent her country. When the 24-player roster was released Thursday, Ellis said in a prepared statement that Krieger has the potential to add depth at right back for the team. Typical right back Kelley O’Hara was left off the roster due to an ankle issue — she had surgery in October to remove “loose bodies” in her right ankle.
“I knew the door was always cracked,” Krieger said. “You never know what opportunity will come across or come to your doorstep. I always wanted to stay ready and be prepared just in case I did receive that phone call.
“I just needed a toe into the door. Now I feel like I can take this opportunity and give it my best and obviously see what happens.”
Krieger said Ellis was happy to hear she was ready to come back to the national team. She added Ellis made her expectations clear when the two talked.
“Definitely not perfection,” Krieger said with a laugh. “Just to catch me up to speed with everything that’s been going on since I’ve been gone — the recent tactical, technical things that are expected of every player, especially in the defense. So, I want to make sure that I understand that and kind of refresh my memory on a few things there, but I know that I’ll just jump right back in and, hopefully, get the job done as well as I can.”