Nwsl Season Is Last For Gotham Defender Ali Krieger

FILE - United States' Alex Krieger defends against North Korea during the group C match between the United States and North Korea at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Dresden, Germany, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Ali Krieger has decided to retire at the end of this season after a professional soccer career that has stretched some 16 years. Krieger announced her impending retirement on Thursday, March 23, 2023.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
FILE - United States' Alex Krieger defends against North Korea during the group C match between the United States and North Korea at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Dresden, Germany, Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Ali Krieger has decided to retire at the end of this season after a professional soccer career that has stretched some 16 years. Krieger announced her impending retirement on Thursday, March 23, 2023.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
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While Ali Krieger has no idea what the next chapter of her life will look like, for now she's just looking forward to some downtime after a professional soccer career that has stretched for some 16 years.

First, though, she's going to finish out a final season with Gotham in the National Women's Soccer League. The opening stop on the farewell tour comes on Sunday, when Gotham starts the season at Angel City.

Krieger announced her impending retirement on Thursday. Her wife, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, retired in November. The couple has two children.

“I feel like my body’s ready,” said Krieger, 38. “I feel like you just know when it’s time and I want to spend a lot of time with my kids and and just enjoy the 16-17 year career that I’ve had, and look back and be really proud.”

As a defender, Krieger's career wasn't a series of highlight-reel goals. But she's known as a savvy and strong player who won World Cups with the United States in 2015 and 2019. At the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals, Krieger scored the game-winning penalty kick after a 2-2 draw against Brazil. The Americans went on to lose on penalties to Japan that year.

In all, Krieger made 108 appearances with the national team.

Krieger's pro career has taken her all over the world, with stops in Germany and Sweden. On home soil, she played for the Washington Spirit before a lengthy stint with the Orlando Pride from 2016 to 2021.

She's proud of her two World Cup championships, as well as a women's Champions League title with Frankfurt. Even more than that, she's amazed that she's had such a long career.

“It’s not easy to get here. But once you get here you have to figure out how to stay here," Krieger said. "And that’s probably the most difficult thing. So you have to have that mentality to fight every single day and just want to have this growth mindset of getting better every day in order to stay at the top. And that’s really difficult. So I think that’s what I’m proud of, too.”

She and Harris were teammates in Orlando before they were both traded to Gotham in advance of the 2022 season. They married in Miami following the 2019 World Cup.

As the NWSL enters its 11th season, Harris and Krieger aren't the only players who helped establish this iteration of the league and are now passing it onto the next generation.

Former Pride teammates Erin McLeod and wide Gunny Jonsdottir left the NWSL to settle in Iceland, Jonsdottir's home. Wave goalkeeper Carly Telford and Chicago Red Stars midfielder Sarah Woldmoe have also retired.

Krieger said she feels a responsibility to leave Gotham in a good place — preferably with a championship.

“That’s the goal this year with the team, doing everything I can to help us be successful," she said. “I feel a lot of responsibility for this year, and for the team, so that’s probably my main focus as of now. I’m trying not to think too far ahead. Then towards the end, after the championship, I just want to enjoy some time with my family because I don’t really get that often.”

Krieger said her decision to retire was independent of her wife's. But they share similar goals in the next chapter, which include advocating for equal pay and equal rights. Harris has been especially vocal in support for transgender kids.

With a home in Florida, equality is deeply personal. They've been vocal opponents of the state's so-called “Don't Say Gay” law, which forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration is moving to prevent classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades.

“It’s our home but also, I feel like it’s not as safe for our family as it could be. But if we don’t stay and fight, who will? So that’s what we are kind of wrestling with now. We can also fight from different states, but to physically be there and make an impact, there’s different weight to that, " Krieger said.

“So yes, we want to continue fighting for what’s right and fighting for our community. "That’s definitely a goal and a dream that our kids can go to school and actually talk about our family and be proud of our family.”

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