ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni was raised in a culture where there’s not as heavy an emphasis on the captain’s role. That’s not to say the position goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris occupies is insignificant; rather, Sermanni believes leadership is a team-wide responsibility.
In her first season with the Pride, United States women’s national-team defender Ali Krieger looks to add to her team with a little bit of leadership of her own. The 32-year-old knows a thing or two about winning, having been to two National Women’s Soccer League semifinals and one final in three out of the four years she was with the Washington Spirit, her former team.
For Krieger, the key to elevating a Pride team that finished in ninth out of 10 places last season is chemistry.
“It takes good chemistry [to win],” Krieger said during the Pride’s media day Thursday. “It takes good team chemistry, a good balance between the coaching staff and the players. Having a good understanding of your role, as a team, as an individual and also focusing on yourself and how you’re doing in your position and how you are being successful in your position to then help the team…
“Obviously, it’s difficult to kinda get all different types of mentalities into one, but I feel like what we have in common is a winning mentality.”
And while Sermanni welcomes leadership from all of her players, Krieger knows she can’t simply force herself onto her new teammates. For the vet, she knows it’s a process that happens over time.
“Obviously coming into a new team is difficult just to be like, ‘Hey, listen to me,'” Krieger said. “So, you have to be careful in that way. So, I feel like I need to take care of myself and my position first, and then I can hopefully be a little bit demanding but also be supportive in a way. So, having that good balance, and I think that’s something that worked with D.C. is that we all had so much fun with each other. We would laugh, we would joke.”
That process of coming into the role she wants to be in is recognized by a level of respect. In the past, Krieger has developed that relationship both on and off the field.
“When it came time, you were then serious, and you knew you had to get the job done. Even though maybe we didn’t have eight national-team players on the team, we were still successful because we knew, ‘Okay, we’re gonna work for that. We’re gonna work for that player. We’re gonna work for our teammate because we know how they are off the field. We’re joking, or we’re having a good time, and we respect them in that way.
“So, I think that is what I had to be careful [with] at the very beginning, and I think that that is something that I, hopefully, will bring here. And just have a certain type of respect level that everyone plays their part, and everyone’s part is just as important as mine or anybody else’s on the team.”
The Pride open their season on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET with an away match against the Portland Thorns. Last season, the Pride dropped both matches in 2-1 defeats.