On Thursday night in St. Louis in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly against New Zealand, Ali Krieger lived a moment that was 11 years in the making.
When the Virginia native entered the match for the U.S. in the 60th minute, she became the 38th player in U.S. Women’s National Team history to record 100 caps for the red, white and blue.
Now a member of her third World Cup roster, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion debuted for the senior national team on January 16, 2008 at the Four Nations Tournament against Canada.
Since then she has helped lead the U.S. to a runner-up finish at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and to its coveted championship in 2015. In 2011, Krieger converted the game-winning penalty pick to send the U.S. past Brazil in the quarterfinals and was one of four players for the United States to play the entire 600 minutes of the tournament, two feats that lead her to be named to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Best XI.
In 2015, Krieger played all but 10 minutes for the champion United States, part of a defense that recorded five consecutive shutouts in the tournament from the second match of group play to the semifinals, allowing just three goals in seven matches overall. Krieger was also a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team 2016 Summer Olympics squad.
But following the Olympics, the calls to represent her country became less frequent. She appeared in just two matches in 2017, a number that held her at 98 career U.S. WNT national team caps. When the calls did not come however, she refused to lose confidence in herself.
“I always thought that the door is still a little cracked, I can’t lose hope with that. I know how good I am and I know my value,” Krieger told the media following the USA’s 5-0 win on Thursday. “I just needed to keep that in the back of my mind and keep training to my ability because no matter what I am always going to be who I am, both on and off the field and that’s always taking the higher road and busting my ass every single day to be the best I can be.”
Those in Krieger’s camp know that very work rate she is referring to. Continually regarded as a warrior and a workhorse by both her Orlando Pride and U.S. WNT teammates, it’s that very mentality and commitment to her craft that led Krieger to the call she received in April to represent her country once more.
After nearly two years without being named to a U.S. roster, Krieger was selected to the team for two friendlies against Australia and Belgium in April. She recorded her 99th cap against Belgium on April 7, playing the full 90 minutes in a 6-0 victory for the United States.
Following those friendlies, she would be named to her third World Cup roster in May for this year’s marquee international tournament in France.
Then came Thursday night, where she entered the pitch for the 100th time for the U.S. Women’s National Team. While for Krieger the game is not about the individual feats, it is certainly a moment for her - and all who helped get her here - to be proud of.
“You have that in the back of your mind obviously, the 100 caps,” Krieger said. “Yeah I’m grateful for that and I’ve worked to get that, but that’s not why I play on this team and that’s not why I play this sport. It’s to win another championship and to do whatever it takes to help this team be in a good position to be successful. And that is to win gold and that’s our expectation every time we show up for a tournament. To be the best; to come home with the trophy and we are on the road to doing that. So that is the focus.”
Krieger and the U.S. WNT will have one more match against Mexico on Sunday, May 26 (11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN) before opening World Cup play on Tuesday, June 11 against Thailand (3 p.m. ET, FOX) in Group F of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.