Upon returning to the United States, the USWNT have been treated like royalty, and for good reason. The world champs won "best team" award at the EPSY's, had a parade in their honor in New York City and have made appearances on late-night shows like Jimmy Kimmel and James Gordon.
D.C. native Ali Krieger is no exception. A baseball fan all her life, she's been going to Camden Yards since she was a kid and her aunt even dated Cal Ripken Jr. A former player for the Washington Pride of the NWSL, she was honored at the Nationals-Rockies game Thursday and even threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"I’m just thrilled to be here, I know the Nationals have supported me and the team throughout the tournament and throughout my career here," Krieger complimented.
Although D.C. is her hometown, it hasn't always been her home base. She played overseas in Germany for five and a half years, citing that time as a crucial period for her development on and off the field.
"I think it really helped me get to the national team...I feel like if you put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, that challenges you to grow both as a player and as a person."
As the World Cup hype begins to die down, players need to find ways to sustain the momentum for women's soccer. The NWSL, where Krieger plays for the Orlando Pride, only has nine teams and the past two women's soccer leagues folded after only a couple years. Attendance has increased, however, and Krieger thinks it's up to the clubs to capitalize on how well the players are performing.
"We have to start asking the sponsorships, the clubs and organizations, 'are you doing everything you can in your power to help put butts in the seats?' Because we’re doing our part," said Krieger.
Despite all the fame she's garnered this summer, Krieger is just another regular D.C. sports fan at her core. She's fangirled over Davey Martinez and seeing Nats players watching and becoming fans of hers has been an incredible experience.
"It’s a great feeling because the feelings are mutual," said Krieger. "I think it’s a rewarding feeling that they respect us because we’re good at our sport and we’re inspiring a nation and a world."
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