VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The U.S. women’s soccer team lost a valuable piece Saturday when defender Ali Krieger was diagnosed with torn knee ligaments, likely ruling her out for the London Olympics.
Krieger tore the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in her right knee during Friday night’s 14-0 win over the Dominican Republic in a qualifying match. The injury requires six to eight months of rehabilitation, a timetable that does not bode well for the Olympics that begin in late July.
Krieger was injured when she was struck flush in her plant leg by Dominican midfielder Leonela Mojica while attempting a shot in the 40th minute. The seriousness of the injury was evident immediately. Krieger’s teammates put their hands to their mouths and waved for the trainers.
Krieger was stretchered off the field and left the stadium on crutches. An MRI on Saturday morning confirmed the torn ACL and MCL.
“It’s a huge disappointment,” midfielder Heather O’Reilly said after the game. “Obviously she’s been a massive part of this team. I’ve really loved playing with her on the right side.”
The 27-year-old Krieger was making her 27th appearance for the U.S. team. She has become a stalwart at right back, playing every minute of all six World Cup matches last summer. She converted the final penalty kick that clinched a win over Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Heather Mitts entered Friday’s game at right back after Krieger’s injury and is expected to become the new starter. Mitts is hardly a shabby replacement, with119 caps for the U.S. team.
The U.S. team did not make Krieger or coach Pia Sundhage available Saturday, instead releasing statements from both.
“I feel so unfortunate and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, especially to have it happen in a match where we were in control,” Krieger said. “Soccer is a funny game and this is part of being an athlete. It’s unfortunate that the timing is really bad, but this team is about way more than one player and I know with all the support from my teammates, my family and friends and from U.S. Soccer, I will come back stronger than ever. It’s going to be a fun year and I’ll be with the team in spirit the whole way, even if I have to be a vocal leader, just sitting and watching.”
Sundhage noted that injuries are something the team can’t control.
“I’m really sorry for Ali,” Sundhage said, “but she’s young and there are so many games in front of her.”
Krieger made her national team debut in January 2008 vs. Canada. The native of Dumfries, Va., has played the last five seasons with FFC Frankfurt in Germany.