Ali Krieger – The One and Only

I’ve written before about Ali Krieger, about the epidemic which has taken over the nation known as Krieger Fever.  I spoke of her beautiful smile, her impeccable skill, her undying determination.  Well now, given recent events I want to touch on that determination again.  And also that smile.  Because let’s be honest; it has literally been proven physically impossible to talk about Ali Krieger and not mention those pearly whites.

For anyone unaware; Ali Krieger, US Women’s National Soccer team starting right back, was recently injured in an Olympic Qualifying game in Vancouver.  As she struck the ball (quite beautifully I might add) and came down on her right foot a Dominican Republic player came in reckless, high, and late.  The result of this extremely painful looking challenge we have now found out is a torn ACL and MCL.  I don’t want to focus on the injury itself.  As much as I would love to rant about the irresponsibility of the ref for not calling this tackle and the player for such a reckless and dangerous challenge; I instead want to focus on how we all know that our girl, Alexandra B Krieger, is a warrior who will fight her way back to the top. 

In my last piece I focused on her playing abilities; on her amazing skill, composure and all around soccer brilliance (and her smile).  This time I want to look at the person behind it.

Beyond her obvious athletic prowess and her fierce determination she is also one of the nicest people you could imagine.  I had the privilege of meeting her briefly after a practice here in LA this past camp.  As she waited patiently for a fan to find their sharpie she struck up a conversation with the rest of us as if we were old friends.  “How was your Christmas?” “Did you enjoy your holidays?” “How have you been?”…were a few of the questions she asked as she genuinely waited for responses.  I will say that this entire team is filled with gracious athletes who all take ample time with fans and it is amazing to see.  I will also say I believe Ali is the perfect example of just how incredible they are with fans.  She has a kindness and a genuine likeability about her that just makes you feel welcome and thrilled to be around her.

Ali is also quite possibly the most positive person I have ever seen.  It’s true.  It’s actually kind of sickening.   A cynic wouldn’t stand a chance around her.  She would turn them into an optimist with a quick flash of her smile.  Her ‘#allsmiles’ hash tag tweets and her positive outlook in everyday life is something all of her fans love seeing; and what we admire about her so wildly.  This is why I am 100%, no…200%, eh, actually…infinity% sure (is that possible?) that she will come back from this quicker than anyone could ever imagine.  And when she does she will still be at the top of her game, smiling all the while.  The fact that she is a fitness monster will also undoubtedly help.  Ali is…well…she’s a freak of nature.  (As are many of the women on this team) Her dedication to her game and her physical fitness will shine through during this tough time.

When I call Ali a warrior or a fighter or a bad ass chick who could take down an entire army with one arm tied behind her back…I am not exaggerating.  (Well, maybe a little with the army bit.  Please don’t test that one out.)  She has proven her commitment to the game and her determination to fight back from all odds.  In 2006, at 21, she was hospitalized due to blood clotting in her lungs leading to 6 mini heart attacks.  Her dedication, determination and positivity all contributed to her rejoining her team at Penn State senior year to finish out her college career after this life threatening condition halted her momentarily.  This new injury is now just another bump along her road.  A road that we are all honored to get to watch roll out in the career of one of our greatest defenders of all time.  She’s like our  own real life Road Runner.  You can try to set as many traps and drop as many anvils on her as you want to, but it will do you no good.  There is no stopping her and this injury is no exception.

The few tweets I have seen from her since the injury happened have all been well spoken, inspiring and confident.  She knows just as well as anyone that this is part of the game.  Injuries happen, and quite often they unfortunately happen at the most inopportune times.

This is just another injury of another athlete but I felt compelled to write about it.  It was either write, or go hunt down the player who did this to her.  But I decided crossing Canadian boarders on a mission to orchestrate a hit on an international soccer player wasn’t the smartest idea.

Just as she is smart, composed and strong on the field she will be the same in her recovery I am sure.  Her presence will be missed greatly and no one can replace everything she has to offer in the right back position, but this is a deep team filled with overly capable players.  I know her presence on the sideline will be crucial as well though, being a motivational leader to her team.

Ali, we are all wishing you the fastest and most successful of recoveries.  I don’t mean to sound selfish, but we’re all going to be eagerly awaiting your return.  So…I mean…you should probably hurry it along…like really…hurry.  You’re an inspiration on and off the field and one of the best defenders in our history in my opinion.  So please come back to us soon.  Positive thoughts and wishes will be sent your way every day from your army of fans.  Thank you for your continued hard work and best of luck!

By the way…if you need any entertainment while recovering let me know.  I specialize in air guitar, dancing to 90’s pop music, lip singing to 80’s hair ballads and falling down / running into things (not by choice) which leads to entertainment for those around me.  Keep it in mind.

Krieger Fever

4 out of 5 soccer fans agree Ali Krieger has the world’s most contagious smile. It has been known to even spread through the television screen. You don’t even have to be in her immediate area, and that is what makes this such an interesting case. I have uncovered the mysteries behind Hope Solo-itis, Carli Lloyd-aphobia, and now I intend to take down Krieger Fever.

Please do not mistake this for Bieber Fever. This is much more intense and it infects everyone, not just 13 year old girls and curious boys. This is far more serious. There are rumors her smile is in fact so bright that various airlines have enlisted her services to aid in guiding planes to land safely in poor visibility. Although this is from an unconfirmed source, I believe it may be true. We first started taking notice of these pearly whites during the 2011 Women’s World Cup this summer. Ms Krieger had a lot to smile about throughout the tournament as she dominated the right defensive position. And I do mean dominated. She was without a doubt one of the most solid players we had playing for the US. It was like trying to get past a giant, cavity free, and gloriously pure white brick wall. Attackers had no answer for beating Krieger’s skill, determination, and blinding white teeth. She was steady, solid, composed, and fierce every single solitary second of this World Cup. She is without a doubt, one of the best defenders this country has ever seen, and still has such a bright future ahead of her. Her composure over the ball is another impressive aspect of her play that draws you in. She could be under enemy fire with a tank coming at her and she would just chill, look at her options, and calmly place the ball somewhere safe. (Then she could just smile into the sunlight and blind the enemy with her teeth; easy solution) We should not only be thanking her dentist and her great genes which gave her this beautiful smile but also be thanking the Soccer Gods for sending us this phenomenal player who can do no wrong on our back line. After especially dazzling plays those blinding teeth come out in a fabulous smile. At that moment, it doesn’t matter what you are doing, where you are, or how depressed you are…it will spread to you and you will smile.

Her composure on the ball, her skill, her ability to get into the attack, her blinding chompers; all were being talked about all summer. But nothing could ready us for the Brazil game. It was an epic game which will go down in history. The feeling of relief and joy and excitement all mixed in with dozens of other emotions is a feeling none of us watching will ever forget. I would go into some of the details of the game and why it was such a relief but my anger management therapist recommended I not speak of how the referees decided to insert themselves into the game so horribly, or how the Brazilian players decided it was necessary to go for an Oscar every time the wind blew too strongly and protest for a foul and…I seem to be getting worked up. Ok…three deep breaths…count to 10…think of Ali Krieger’s smile…ok, I’m back! Let’s focus on what the outcome was; America’s fighting spirit and fierce athletes overcoming all obstacles and winning in the most dramatically fascinating game I have ever seen. After Hope Solo came up with a brilliant save in penalty kicks after that exhilarating overtime, it was up to our remaining players taking a kick to win it for us. It was our last kick; we just needed to put this one away for the win. Who else steps up to the spot, but the one and only Alexandra B Krieger with nothing but determination and focus on her face. There was no distracting this girl. The laser focus, yet calm and confident look on her face is one I will never forget. (Nor will the Brazilian goalkeeper I am sure) She looked calm, cool, collected and ready to send Brazil home. She stepped to the spot, kept her head down, the whistle blew…and then she made all of America lose their freaking minds. Krieger had scored the last penalty kick we needed for the win and we got to see the biggest Krieger smile we had ever been blessed with. Dentists all over the world fell to their knees and wept at the beauty of it. Orthodontists began rioting in the streets from on overload of emotion. Teeth whitening specialists cursed the Gods that no matter how hard they tried they are not capable of making their clients’ teeth that white. The world could not stop smiling. Everyone near and far had caught Krieger Fever.

There are also some negative side effects to keep in mind though. Roughly 4000 cases of pulled cheek muscles have been reported. When someone catches a glance of Ms Krieger’s smile it is sometimes too powerful for them to handle and they smile so hard they cause severe trauma to their cheeks. But some good news is that dentists and orthodontists all over are seeing such a spike in patients they are in need of hiring more and more staff. Those who never cared about their dental hygiene are now obsessed with having a smile like Ms Krieger’s. Who cares about Moves Like Jagger? We want a Smile Like Krieger! The elderly are shining their dentures, the coffee drinkers and smokers are quitting, the hockey players missing teeth are finally getting the dental work they need and the hillbillies are learning what toothpaste is. She has started a nationwide movement for better dental hygiene.

Krieger Fever is a special virus which when experienced in moderation can be spectacular. But if you are not used to watching her then please, start in small doses. We don’t need any more cheek muscle trauma cases being reported. Start slow, and work your way up. Because I can assure you, when you watch her play and see how absolutely brilliant she is on that field and how lucky we are she is playing for our country and she shines those moon beams at you, it can be overwhelming. But just accept it, smile, and know that you have been infected by Krieger Fever.

Ali, you are truly a hero and an idol to so many. You’re talent wows us, your athletic prowess amazes us, your determination inspires us and your beautiful smile makes us giddy little school girls. On behalf of dentists and soccer fans alike, I thank you for all you and your teeth do for us.