Our No. 6 club moment for the Orlando City SC trio of teams technically began in early November of 2016, when the Pride acquired Ali Krieger in a trade from the Washington Spirit in exchange for the team’s No. 2 position in the NWSL Distribution Ranking order. The veteran USWNT defender was brought in to shore up a Pride defense that shipped 30 goals in 20 games in 2016 — tied for the second most in the league. She did just that in 2017.
Orlando conceded 31 goals in 2017, but in 24 games instead of 20, which was fourth best in the NWSL this past season. The former Spirit captain played multiple back line positions for Tom Sermanni over the course of the year — right back, left center back, right center back, and eventually locked down the left-side central defense position next to left back Steph Catley.
With Krieger’s strong play and leadership, the Pride captured their first playoff berth in club history in only Year 2, before bowing out on the road against the eventual league champion Portland Thorns. As we said in her glowing season-in-review column, Krieger put together quite a season, culminating in season “Best XI” honors from the NWSL and CONCACAF.
Krieger played every minute of every match in 2017, starting all 24 regular-season games and playing 2,160 minutes — quite a feat for the 33-year-old. She also started and played the full 90 in the Pride’s playoff semifinal match at Portland. Krieger played eight regular-season games and the playoff match at right center back, 11 games at left center back, and five games at right back.
She led the entire NWSL in passing attempts (1,300), completing 82.5% of them, behind only Monica (84.4%), Marta (84%), and Maddy Evans (83.2%). She did not score a goal but did assist on two. Owing mainly to spending so much time at center back, Krieger managed only 11 shot attempts for the season but none were on target, although she did hit the crossbar in the waning moments of a 1-0 home loss to Chicago. She also attempted only 21 crosses all year.
On the Pride, only Catley (1,667) had more touches than Krieger’s 1,652 for the season. A clean player, Krieger drew only two cautions all season, committing just 13 fouls in all, while suffering seven.
Krieger was named to the NWSL Team of the Month in both June and August. Only Marta achieved that monthly league honor more often on the Pride (four times).
In addition to her standout defense, and the leadership she displayed in captaining the Pride while Ashlyn Harris was out with a quad injury, Krieger also chipped in some occasional set piece brilliance, like this assist.
Although Sermanni and General Manager Niki Budalic brought Krieger to the Pride in late 2016, it was her addition to the lineup in 2017 that helped change the culture and the fortunes of Orlando in the team’s second NWSL season, and adding a player of Krieger’s quality to the Pride’s starting XI is therefore worthy of being one of our Top 10 moments of 2017.
Come back through New Year's Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2017.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2017
10. Orlando City trounces New England Revolution, 6-1.
9. Orlando Pride clobbers Sky Blue FC, 5-0.
8. OCB’s impressive 12-game unbeaten streak through the summer of 2017.
7. Orlando City adds Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter to defense.