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For Ali Krieger, reaching the 2023 NWSL Championship means a lot. So, too, does the support she has received from Megan Rapinoe, who she’ll be going up against Saturday in the final game of their careers.
The Gotham FC captain never imagined this storybook ending, but Krieger feels “grateful and lucky” that she and her friend get to share the field one last time. Krieger, 39, and Rapinoe, 38, played together on the U.S. women’s national team for years, winning the 2015 and 2019 World Cup titles.
And while they’re not wearing the same jersey this time around, the clash between Gotham FC and OL Reign will allow the soccer world to honor the two retiring stars.
“I am so happy that we get to celebrate together,” Krieger said Thursday.
Krieger announced her impending retirement ahead of the NWSL season, and Rapinoe followed, announcing hers ahead of the World Cup. They’re two of the best to play the game at their respective positions, and they’ve been putting off retirement for as long as they can – especially considering that neither has won an NWSL title yet.
“We were joking around because we’re like, are we really dragging out our NWSL experience to the max like the very last moment, very last game over the years?” Krieger said. “Like, so tired and fighting and playing and training, our very last chance, we really dragged it out. So we’re getting the full experience this year.”
Krieger has watched Rapinoe from up close and from afar, and she has plenty of praise for the Reign forward, calling her “magic” on the field.
“She just is so individually, technically good, and no one’s like it,” she said. “When she’s on the field, she just brings this electrifying element to the game and to the team that you give her the ball and you know something good is gonna happen.”
Krieger and Rapinoe are proud of one another. And while each wants to win as bad as the other, they’ll embark on their next chapters with their friendship stronger than ever.
“She has been rock solid for me as a best friend,” Krieger said.
And while Krieger did not want to delve too deeply into her personal life, she acknowledged her tough time of late. Her wife and former USWNT and Gotham FC teammate Ashlyn Harris filed for divorce in September.
“My personal life has been very difficult since about June, and she’s been there supporting me through that,” Krieger said. “And I think that’s what teammates are for. When you not only go through tough times on the field, when you have tough times off the field and you can lean on those friends that you’ve felt lifelong friendships with.
“I think, no matter what happens, we’re always going to be there for each other and it goes far beyond the playing field.”
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