Often times there’s rarely a real connection between an athlete and a specific sports travel destination. More than any other player on the US Women’s National team competing at the 2011 FIFA World Cup, Ali Krieger feels quite at home in Germany, the host country for the tournament.
Krieger for three of the past four seasons has played for a German professional club, FFC Frankfurt. The World Cup championship match on Sunday between the US and Japan will be played in Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt. FFC Frankfurt, with Krieger on the roster, plays their home matches at the stadium and won the women’s European club tournament there in 2008.
Krieger admits she endured a challenging transitional period adjusting to the German culture when she first joined FFC Frankfurt in 2007. In a recent USA Today story, she lamented the Germans’ blatant honesty.
“In the U.S.,” she says, “if you make a mistake, we say, ‘Nice try.’ In Germany, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you (stink).’”
She elaborated on that thought at a teleconference from Frankfurt on Thursday. “They tell it like it is,” she says. “I would take things too personally, but I’ve grown used to it and I like it. I had to find a happy medium and grow some thick skin.”
Krieger hopes to show her US teammates around Frankfurt before the game on Sunday. And she hopes her familiarity of the country and its culture will improve her comfort level as the Americans try to win the tournament for the first time since 1999.
Krieger famously converted the penalty kick that clinched a shootout win for the Americans over Brazil last weekend in a quarterfinal match. It will tough for her to match those heroics in the final on Sunday.
Krieger can certainly claim one triumph off the soccer field. She has grown comfortable with the German culture and has learned things about the Germans that can help any traveler who plans a trip to the country. “The people in general are nice, punctual people,” she says. “They know what they want and how to achieve it. They’re very competitive. That’s similar to our culture. If they can’t do one thing perfectly, they won’t do it at all. They’ve very organized, and I like that.”