PARIS (AP) — Many World Cup teammates have special bonds. The tie that binds U.S. defender Ali Krieger and American goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris is among the strongest at the tournament.
They got engaged last year and are planning a December wedding.
“A lot of our teammates with their partners and spouses, they don’t get to be here day in and day out,” Krieger said. “It’s really nice to be able to share this moment with her and to make these memories with her.”
They announced their engagement in People magazine in March, revealing Harris proposed on the beach in Clearwater, Florida, during a picnic last Sept. 15 and surprised Krieger with a ring.
“She is what makes me. She is my life. She is the person I am spending the rest of my life with,” Harris said.
They first met in 2010, a time both were training with the national team. They were teammates with the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League for much of 2013-15. Harris was left unprotected in an expansion draft and was taken by the Orlando Pride, and Krieger joined her when she was traded to the Pride after the 2016 season.
While their lives are joined, they are not roommates when national team players double up on the road.
“I think what has made us so successful in the work space together for so long is our boundaries,” Harris said. “When we’re at work, we’re there to work. I’m her teammate, so if she wants to come to me for something, I’m going to give her the real answer, the accountability answer. And then when we’re at home, that’s our time to be at home, and then soccer doesn’t walk through the front door.”
When they head out for the 20-minute trip to training in Florida, their personal lives stay home.
“Sometimes we drive separate,” Krieger said. “I like to have my space sometimes and so does she.”
Krieger grew up in Virginia and played at Penn State before turning pro, and she made her national team debut in 2008. Now 34, Krieger started all seven matches as the U.S. won the 2015 World Cup but she was dropped from the national team in 2017 while Harris continued to get called to camp. Harris provided mental support.
“When she was in town we would get up together 8 a.m., go do workouts, and she really pushed me to get back and I really am grateful and will always be for her support,” Krieger said. “Sometimes I’d feel bad because I would be so emotional and so, maybe tough at times to be around, because I was so angry at times and just really going through it and struggling. So I think with her support, she really helped get me out of that hole and blossom into the woman I am now here.”
Krieger received a text from U.S. coach Jill Ellis on March 19 asking her to give her a call. With decisions on a World Cup roster looming, Ellis told Krieger that night she was wanted back.
She returned for an exhibition against Belgium on April 7 after an absence of two years and a day, then was together with Harris on May 2 when Ellis revealed she was going to the World Cup . Krieger made her 100th international appearance versus New Zealand on May 16, remained on the bench as Kelley O’Hara played right back for last week’s opening 13-0 rout of Thailand, then took over for Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Chile.
Harris, 33, grew up in Florida, was a three-time NCAA champion at North Carolina and turned pro in 2010. While Harris first trained with the national team in 2009, she didn’t make her debut until 2013 and has just 21 total appearances, backing up Hope Solo at first and now Alyssa Naeher.
Their relationship does not appear to be an issue within the national team.
“Everyone’s personal lives is their personal lives, and we respect however they want to show it,” defender Becky Sauerbrunn said.
In an era when more athletes who are gay are comfortable publicly discussing their relationships, Australia captain Sam Kerr revealed in a Nike mini-documentary this year her partner is American midfielder Nikki Stanton , a teammate on the Perth Glory from 2015-17 and since 2018 on the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.
Krieger and Harris, though, are together not just on a club but on their sport’s biggest stage during the one month every four years when intense focus is on women’s soccer.
And coming up soon is a wedding they put off until after club seasons end.
“The celebration will be in December,” Harris said, “so there’ll be a lot of teammates there, that’s for sure.”
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