Several U.S. women’s national team players are heading back to their hometowns after Friday’s NWSL allocation, but only for Ali Krieger will the homecoming be two-fold. Not only is the 28-year-old defender playing in the U.S. after spending the last five years in Germany, but she’ll play for her hometown team, the Washington Spirit.
On a media call Monday, Krieger stated that it was a “no brainer” to come back to the U.S. and play in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“I’m getting older and I did the whole Europe thing after college and it brought me to this point in my career,” she said. “And now it was actually perfect timing and the door was wide open.”
And she’s finally healthy, one year after tearing her ACL and MCL in Olympic qualifying.
“I’m actually back at 100 percent and I’m really excited to be home and be part of the Washington Spirit and also the National Team.”
The Spirit will need Krieger at full health to start the season since one of their other allocated players, U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, will miss at least a month of the season while she finishes her season with FCR 2001 Duisburg.
In addition to Krieger and Harris, Washington was allocated midfielder Lori Lindsey from the United States, defender Robin Gayle and midfielder Diana Matheson from Canada, and defender Alina Garciamendez and midfielder Guadalupe Worbis.
Gayle and Matheson were both members of Canada’s bronze medal team in last year’s Olympics. Matheson scored the lone goal of the bronze medal match to lift Canada over France. Mexico’s Garciamendez is one of the younger members of the allocation having finished her college career at Stanford this past fall. Garciamendez was considered one of the best defenders in this year’s draft class prior to the allocation.
“We’re very excited about all seven of (the allocated players) and can’t wait to get them into preseason,” Spirit general manager Chris Hummer said. “Competitively, Mike (Jorden) is a great coach and we have a great start on the defensive side of the game which is where every great coach starts to build their team.
“There’s a lot of prospects we’re talking to that will make us a solid team.”
Despite not being allocated one of the big names from the U.S. national team, the Washington Spirit may have a unique marketing advantage over the other NWSL teams.
All three of the Spirit’s allocated players from the U.S. played for the Washington Freedom in WPS at some point.
“We couldn’t be happier from a marketing perspective.” Hummer said. “Our franchise being able to have players that have a history with the fanbase makes the marketing a lot easier. Ali’s got a huge following, Lori has a huge following here, and Ashlyn.”
The Spirit will add four more players to its roster in Friday’s inaugural collegiate draft. Jorden admits that the much of the Spirit’s draft strategy depends on what spot in the draft they get. No matter what the draft order, the Spirit will need to draft some offensive firepower to complement the defensively heavy allocation it received.
If the team wishes to continue with the hometown feel Virginia’s Caroline Miller (a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist) or Florida State’s Tiffany McCarty would be great picks. Both forwards are from the Washington, D.C. metro area.