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Ali Krieger: How USWNT players are helping her prepare for retirement

Defender Ali Krieger helped carry Gotham FC into the 2023 playoffs in her last season before retirement. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

Ali Krieger will play in her final regular-season NWSL match at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.

Ahead of her retirement, she is receiving support from Gotham FC and from the U.S. women’s national team, for which she last played in 2019. A two-time World Cup winner, Krieger made 108 international appearances in her career.

Krieger, 39, is not the only USWNT legend to say goodbye to the sport in 2023. Megan Rapinoe also is retiring at the end of the NWSL season, and Julie Ertz retired after one last USWNT match in September.

As a generation of USWNT veterans prepares for their next chapters, players — including Krieger, Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn — are checking in with one another, Krieger told The Athletic’s Meg Linehan.

“We do check in and talk to each other, because we’ve seen our former teammates go through a similar phase and it is a bit scary. You have a fear of the unknown because you’ve been doing something for so long,” she said. “We’ve seen former teammates struggle a little through that. So we connect with each other and talk about it. We are very excited for the next phase.”

Within the USWNT and professional soccer, players have the benefit of “other people giving you the tools to succeed, and you show up and roll your sleeves up and do what you do best,” Krieger said. In retirement, players have to navigate on their own.

And while players have seen former teammates struggle “a little” in that phase, talking it through with one another helps.

“The next phase does get a little scary for everyone,” she said. “But knowing that I have people like them in my corner, who I can always pick up the phone and call and use as a support is really comforting. And I think they know that about me, too.

“This is only the beginning for all of us. We have so much to give, not only to the sport outside of physically being on the field, but vocally. We have a tremendous platform to use and make sure that we continue to impact and inspire that way.”