American soccer stars arrived at the second annual U.S. women’s national team Players Ball on Dec. 7 dressed to the nines and ready to celebrate. At the ball, the USWNT players association honored Ali Krieger and spotlighted her illustrious career.
Krieger retired from professional soccer after her former NWSL team — NJ/NY Gotham FC — took home its first NWSL championship on Nov. 11. It was also Krieger’s first NWSL championship victory, and her medal sits among other impressive hardware in her trophy case, including the 2014 CONCACAF women’s championship and two World Cups with the USWNT.
Krieger dazzled in a light blue, Gotham-esque dress and gave an emotional speech after she was honored by the players association. Much of Krieger’s speech was recorded and posted to X (formerly known as Twitter) by The Athletic’s Meg Linehan.
Another lovely moment for @alikrieger tonight, one of the retiring #USWNT players honored this year at the @USWNTPlayers Ball — with a very heartfelt (if unplanned) speech. pic.twitter.com/s7UlGZEnAQ— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) December 7, 2023
Another lovely moment for @alikrieger tonight, one of the retiring #USWNT players honored this year at the @USWNTPlayers Ball — with a very heartfelt (if unplanned) speech. pic.twitter.com/s7UlGZEnAQ
“To my former teammates, I don’t know how I would be where I am without you,” Krieger said. “You made me look so damn good on that field, you know who you are. Thank you for, just, carrying me through, this has been such a difficult year, but also a year that I cherish because I learned so much about myself.”
Krieger reminisced on her final season as a player and its challenges. Off the pitch, she went through a divorce with her ex-wife and former USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and, two days before her NWSL championship victory, her father went into hospice care. As Krieger thanked her closest friends and teammates, her voice broke and her eyes welled with tears.
“I’ve been through a lot this year and, thanks to you, Crystal is definitely one of the ones who reached out the most, Pinoe, Syd and all my former [teammates,] Midge. Obviously, I wouldn’t’ve — I’m going to get so emotional — I wouldn’t’ve been able to survive without you,” Krieger said.
Krieger also shouted out the younger generation of USWNT players and discussed the future of the team.
“To the younger players who are so effin’ talented, I love watching you play, you are gonna carry this team,” Krieger said. “You’re going to carry this team to championships, we will get on the right path because of you. You guys can do so much more than I ever could have done on this field.”
Krieger expressed her thanks for her past teammates and for the opportunities that professional soccer has given her, while saying she’s excited for what’s coming next.
“Winning championships has been incredible, but what’s most important is the lifelong friendships that we’ll carry on throughout the rest of our time, and I’m so excited for that. I’m so excited for the next chapter. I’m so excited to share with all of you.”