FRANKFURT, Germany – Ali Krieger might have a future as a tour guide after this.
The U.S. defender's teammates have been bombarding her with questions about what to do and what to see in Frankfurt, site of Sunday's World Cup final and Krieger's home for much of the last four years.
"Since we drove into Frankfurt, it's been nothing but questions of where to go and what to see, where to eat, what's the best thing to see in Frankfurt," she said Friday. "I know my favorite places and what I like to do. I just tell them to go into the city and enjoy it. We don't have so much time here so whatever you can see, do it. It's a nice place."
Despite not knowing anyone in Germany or a word of the language, Krieger moved here after graduating from Penn State in the summer of 2007. The Women's Professional Soccer league was still two years from kicking off, and Krieger knew she needed to play — at a high level — to catch the attention of the U.S. coaching staff.
After a weeklong tryout, Krieger signed with FFC Frankfurt. The Bundesliga powerhouse had 11 members of Germany's World Cup champion team at the time, including captain Birgit Prinz, who shares the tournament record for scoring with Marta; and Steffi Jones, now president of the organizing committee for this year's event.
Krieger started her first game with Frankfurt and helped the club to a rare "treble" that first year — the Bundesliga title, German Cup and European women's championship. This season, Krieger and Frankfurt won the German Cup again.
Pia Sundhage took over as coach shortly after Krieger left for Germany, and Krieger had some fears that being so far away might keep her out of the mix for the U.S. team. But Sundhage, a Swede, knows all about the German league and how good its players are, and was impressed that the young American was more than holding her own.
Sundhage called Krieger up for a May 22, 2010, game — against Germany, no less — and she's been a staple on the U.S. team ever since. She has played every minute of every World Cup game, and she buried the penalty kick that clinched the epic victory over Brazil in the quarterfinals.
The Americans then beat France to earn a spot in the final — and Krieger a trip "home."
"I'm very happy to be back," said Krieger, who's now fluent in German and has been popular with the German media. "It's a dream come true that I can actually play in the place where I've lived ... and end the tournament in such an amazing place. It's kind of emotional because I thought I could actually be here, but to share this with this team, these players, is just a cherry on top of the ice cream."
Krieger's parents are here for the final, as is her agent and his family. Her brother, who'd returned to the United States after being here for some of the earlier games, is flying back, and she just found out two of her best friends are coming, too.
"Hopefully it'll be a great game and we'll be successful and win," Krieger said. "That'll be a dream come true even more."