The best women's soccer players on the planet will lean on their loved ones for support as they vie for the trophy in the 2019 World Cup, which begins June 7.
For two players on Team USA, their partner will be right next to them on the bench: Defender Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris are engaged to be married.
The longtime couple went public with their relationship in March in People magazine. Together since 2010, the American soccer stars were engaged last September, and plan to marry in December.
Harris, 33, described to People how the relationship started: “We became really close friends, and we just hung out, we clicked, and we had so much in common. We always sat next to each other on the bus and on flights, and we kind of just talked about our dreams and our hopes and what we wanted to do one day when we grew up. ... The rest has kind of been history.”
The couple kept the relationship private for years, partly out of a desire to be "professional" as teammates (they also play together on the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League), Krieger said. But they felt comfortable sharing their engagement this spring.
“We weren’t expecting all the love and support,” said Krieger, 34, according to NBC. “Everyone involved in our soccer team, including fans and supporters, have been so incredible.”
“It feels so good, and it feels so light,” Harris told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For so long, it felt like this burden, and it was so heavy because we couldn’t tell people. Now that it’s out there and it’s open, I think we can just genuinely be the best versions of ourselves.”
Krieger made the World Cup roster as one of the final cuts after several years away from the national team. She made her 100th appearance for the U.S. in a friendly last month. Harris is the backup goalie behind starter Alyssa Naeher. Both players also were on the World Cup-winning squad in 2015.
The United States opens group-stage play on June 11 against Thailand.