Ali Krieger Discusses U.S. Women's Soccer Win
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
USA's win against Brazil yesterday didn't guarantee a World Cup title. But boy, did it feel like it. The women's soccer quarterfinal in Dresden, Germany, had all the makings of a legendary sports moment - the kind that lives on for years to come.
With a match in overtime and Brazil leading by one, midfielder Megan Rapinoe pushed the ball down the field with little more than a minute left.
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Mr. IAN DARKE (Sports Commentator, ESPN): Rapinoe gets a cross in. It's towards Wambach...
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Mr. DARKE: ...Goal! Can you believe this? Abby Wambach has saved the USA's life, and this World Cup.
NORRIS: Abby Wambach headed the ball into the net. With that, the game was tied. The winner would be decided by a series of penalty kicks. The last for the U.S. was taken by Ali Krieger.
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Mr. DARKE: ..Can win it for the USA here. And she does! And the USA are into the last four! It's been a near miracle, this, in Dresden.
NORRIS: Ali Krieger sealed the U.S. victory, and she joins us now from Dusseldorf. Welcome to the program and wow, congratulations.
Ms. ALI KRIEGER (U.S. Women's National Soccer Team): Thank you so much. I appreciate you guys having me on.
NORRIS: Well, we're so happy that you're with us. I want to, if I can, take you back to yesterday and put you back on that field.
Ms. KRIEGER: Yeah.
NORRIS: Put me in your head as you got ready to take that last penalty shot.
Ms. KRIEGER: You know, I've gotten asked that many times already. And to be honest, I was just confident in going up there and taking the PK. And, honestly, nothing was really going through my mind at that time other than, you know, I have to put this away.
All my teammates who took - you know, the four other girls who stepped up and rocked the other ones, I felt like I had to the same. You know, we were just destined to win. And you know, fortunately, I just placed it in the left corner, and it ended up being successful.
NORRIS: I read in Sports Illustrated that you had told your coaches that you wanted to take one of the penalty kicks. So you must be a glutton for pressure.
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Ms. KRIEGER: Yes, correct. I just think - I don't know. In that moment, all of a sudden I felt like the pressure was released. For some reason, you know, when I was walking up there, I felt pressure before. But then as I'm walking up, all of a sudden I felt the pressure was taken away. And it was just me and the shot.
NORRIS: This was a very controversial game. People are still, hours later, still buzzing about whether the Brazilian player, Erika's injury, was actually an injury. Some are questioning whether or not she was really hurt.
Ms. KRIEGER: Right.
NORRIS: How surprised were you when she got up and bounded off that stretcher and ran back onto the field?
Ms. KRIEGER: Yeah. You know, we all were kind of shocked because it did actually look like she was injured. You know, who knows? You know, we know that sometimes that's done in order to take some time away on the clock. So we were actually used to it because Brazil tends to do that more often than not.
So we all were kind of shocked. We had thought she should have gotten more of a red card than what the ref gave her. But it all worked out in the end. And I guess, you know, everything was on our side. And so that was really good.
NORRIS: Time was added to the clock.
Ms. KRIEGER: Exactly. And time should have been added to the clock. I mean, fortunately, you know, we had thought, ugh, you know, this is crazy. And she's just running back onto the field like nothing was wrong. So you know, we were pretty shocked.
But you know, we didn't let that get us down. And we were pretty focused on what the goal was - and that was to, you know, in the final second to tie it up.
NORRIS: I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the overall refereeing in this game. There were some really tough calls against the U.S.
Ms. KRIEGER: Correct. You know, unfortunately, like, I think the refereeing hasn't been, you know, perfect in this tournament. That's actually one thing that is slightly wrong. Everything else in this tournament has been amazing.
You know, the fields and, you know, the security and the fans and the atmosphere - all of that has been just 110 percent, just amazing. And you know, the refereeing, a little bit yesterday - yeah, you could say it wasn't that great.
But once again, we have to deal with these situations. And you know, this is what soccer is about.
NORRIS: You know, you also have to deal with, I imagine, a lot of expectations and anticipation. In some way, do you feel the weight of women's soccer history on your backs when you step out onto the field?
Ms. KRIEGER: Yeah, we do. You know, we want to represent our country and, you know, also the former players, who we look up to. I think yesterday they would have been - or they are very, very proud of us. But you know, the amazing team that won buzz in '99 is unreal. Of course we want to, you know, follow in somewhat of their footsteps.
But I think we're writing a new story, and this team is different. And we've had, you know, a long year - and an exciting year.
NORRIS: Ali Krieger is a member of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. Ali Krieger, thanks so much for taking time to talk with us.
Ms. KRIEGER: No problem.
NORRIS: All the best to you.
Ms. KRIEGER: Thank you so much for taking the time.
NORRIS: Good luck.
Ms. KRIEGER: Yep, thank you. Appreciate it.
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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.
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