There’s not a lot US Women’s National Team defender Ali Krieger hasn’t done. She’s spent her career helping to build a sustainable women’s pro soccer league in the US, brought home two World Cup championships, won one of the most important equal pay lawsuits in a generation, and helped carve a path for moms in sports all while serving looks as one half of soccer’s chicest power couple with wife Ashlyn Harris.
So it's without a trace of regret that she's announcing her retirement at the end of the 2023 NWSL season, news that she shares exclusively with Glamour. When I connect with her to talk about this—and all that she's accomplished—she beams and says, “We have to be happy.”
Women’s sports are rarely just about the game, and Krieger’s career has been no exception. To focus exclusively on a player’s legacy on the field is a luxury that comes with equality—which is still a long way off for most women in sports as they face huge gaps in pay, investment, and media coverage. Even for the biggest stars, the work on the field is often about proving women’s worth off of it. “Before it was that women athletes had to just be excited to be here and grateful for having a soccer ball to play with,” Krieger says. “We’re not settling anymore for just being grateful. For me and my generation of players, we've had to fight for every little thing in order to have a voice. We fought for something bigger than ourselves.”
When Krieger graduated from Penn State University, there was no professional women’s soccer league in the United States. Now the NWSL, in which Krieger plays for Gotham FC (along with fellow USWNT icons Kelley O’Hara, Allie Long, Kirstie Mewis, Midge Purce, and Imani Dorsey), is one of the most exciting leagues in women’s sports. “If you're not involved now, you're definitely going to be missing out,” Krieger says. “The players are the league, and we do have the power—to have this league moving in the direction that it's going is because of us.”
It’s fitting then that Krieger is ending her playing career with the 2023 NWSL season. “I really value club soccer, and the NWSL Championship is the only thing I haven't won,” she says. “I'm just throwing it out there into the universe and making that a goal for me and the team this year.”