Ali Riley is more than just an award-winning defender. The Orlando Pride star is also an expert interviewer, eager experimenter, and, according to Marta, the best teammate. The New Zealand captain is also the host of Just Women’s Sports’ Off the Ball, a digital series which takes viewers behind the scenes with some of soccer’s biggest stars.
In season 1 of the series, Riley chatted with some of NWSL’s biggest names about their lives on and off the pitch. With season 2 around the corner, we’re looking back at the best highlights and hijinks from Off the Ball so far.
Ali Krieger joined Ali Riley in the Orlando Pride locker room to chat about her experience juggling being a new mom to baby Sloane with her role as a professional athlete. The Pride defender revealed to Riley that becoming a mom had made a huge impact on the way she approached progress and advocacy in sport.
“I hope that women get paid what they deserve,” Krieger said. “That’s super important for me as a mom, to continue to fight for equality and to continue to fight for what we deserve.”
Riley also got a swaddling lesson from her teammate, as the Off the Ball host volunteered to have herself wrapped up in a blanket in a must-see season finale spectacle.
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Erin McLeod started her sit down with a deep breathing exercise that nearly lulled Riley into a meditative state.
The veteran Canadian goalkeeper is known for her mindful approach to life on and off the pitch, including in her art practice. McLeod likens her “state of flow” in art to being “in the zone” on the soccer field. After talking about her work, Riley decided to put McLeod’s skills as an artist to the test, as the pair drew portraits of each other without looking at the canvas. Chaos, predictably, ensued.
Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir, affectionately known as Gunny, stopped by Off the Ball to chat with Riley about her formative love for rap music and basketball, with the Iceland native having spent part of her childhood in Philadelphia.
“I wanted to be the next Eminem, yet the next Allen Iverson,” Gunny says.
Although that dream didn’t exactly pan out, the Icelandic soccer star did show off her pipes, nailing a TikTok singing challenge with Riley.
During their chat, Erika Tymrak gave Riley a behind-the-scenes look into her career-changing decision to come out of retirement after a year away from soccer.
“I honestly didn’t plan on coming back,” Tymrak said, but she “kept on getting signs” that she needed to return.
Eventually, Tymrak not only returned but doubled down on her professional training, changing her diet and exercise routine. A former dancer, Tymrak also took Riley to the studio for a lesson on the dance floor, testing Riley’s hand-eye coordination.
Toni Pressley, an original member of the Orlando Pride, linked up with Riley in the team’s locker room for a conversation on vegan cooking, the power of crystals, and her Harry Styles obsession.
Riley then challenged Pressley to a blindfolded makeover that ended in a surprising new look.
The one and only Marta Vieira da Silva sat down with Riley in April, kicking off season 1 with a bang.
Considered one of the greatest footballers to ever take the pitch, Marta revealed she is also a Guinness World Record holder, a vegan grill master, and a musical genius–is there anything she can’t do?
The secret to Marta’s success, she says, is her competitive spirit. “When I play, I play like with all of my heart, like I give everything. I be so angry when I lose, I be so happy when I win.”
Marta also showed her musical prowess, playing three different instruments in Riley’s exclusive locker-room shower concert.