Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger enjoying life in Gotham’s ‘fast lane’ with USWNT in rearview mirror

Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger attend the game between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks.
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Four months after making the move to NWSL club Gotham FC, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger say they are settling nicely into life in the proverbial fast lane.

“We’re literally at the center of the universe,” said Harris, who was traded to NJ/NY Gotham FC from the Orlando Pride in December, along with wife Krieger. “Like, the pace… holy smokes – it’s just go, go, go, go, go. And you just don’t get enough time to just sit and breathe and relax. So, it’s been a really quite a change, but a really great change.”

The 37-year-old Krieger and 36-year-old Harris have been splitting their time between the New York and New Jersey sides of Gotham, but they are 100-percent taking it all in through the wide eyes of their 15-month-old daughter, Sloane.

“When we take her into the city and everyone’s honking and the trucks are driving by, her eyes — I mean, she has big eyes to begin with — but her eyes are just like, ‘What is going on?'” Harris said in an interview set up by sponsor Hertz.

“I think as a family, we’re really growing and just living in such a beautiful little community, and we feel really safe there,” adds Krieger. “The weather is probably the only thing that’s a shock for us.”

While adjusting to big-city life has taken a minute, Harris and Krieger have found their transition to Gotham FC to be more seamless.

“We were obviously playing better football, and we’re honestly on a team with such incredible human beings. And then they’re so good at soccer,” said Krieger. “We’re in an environment where we’re continuing to be challenged and getting better every day because of that. So, it’s been really fun.”

Gotham FC opened the 2022 NWSL regular season on Sunday with a 3-0 win over their former club, with Harris recording four saves and Krieger making 12 clearances. Next up, they’ll travel to California for a game this Saturday against expansion club San Diego.

But while their journey with Gotham FC is just beginning, Krieger confirmed she believes her time with the U.S. Women’s National Team has come to an end. Krieger (108 caps) and Harris (18 caps) received their last USWNT call-ups in January 2021.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Krieger, who was member of the USWNT that won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, and finished second in 2011. “Obviously, there was no like official announcement, but ever since we didn’t make the Olympic roster, it was pretty clear and obvious to us that we just now focus on our family and focus on club soccer and just the joy of not having to be in that stress of an environment after 12 to 15 years of playing at that level.

“I think we’ve given everything we have to the national team,” she continued. “Obviously, if we’re ever needed in the future, we’re always here.”

But don’t mistake that change as a sign that Krieger and Harris are slowing down anytime soon. In fact, they’re encouraging fans and travelers alike to hit the road in a custom-wrapped car from Hertz for their next special occasion. The women can be seen on social media enjoying a car wrapped to celebrate Mother’s Day, commemorating their second year as parents with the words, “Two moms who like to kick it.”

Added Harris: “I love being celebrated for such an important milestone both Ali and I are going through right now, being new moms and having such a great partnership with Hertz to show up for us constantly on these really, really special occasions.”

On Her Turf editor Alex Azzi contributed to this report. 

Crystal Dunn returns to USWNT roster five months after giving birth

Nigeria v USWNT
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Crystal Dunn was named to the USWNT roster for two upcoming friendlies against England and Spain, marking her first official selection since giving birth to son Marcel in May.

Dunn made her NWSL return with the Portland Thorns earlier this month and also trained with the U.S. team as a non-rostered player ahead of friendlies vs. Nigeria.

In addition to Dunn, the 24-player roster features a veteran core of Alyssa Naeher, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh, and Megan Rapinoe.

Alex Morgan was not named to the USWNT roster due to a knee injury. While U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski did not provide details of the injury, he noted that “if this was a World Cup final, Alex was going to be on this trip and was going to play, no question.”

Other roster highlights include 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who becomes the first player born in 2004 to receive a USWNT call-up. Thomas, a high senior, plays club soccer for the U-17 Total Futbol Academy boys’ team.

“We are very excited for her, very excited about her potential and qualities and looking forward to seeing how she will turn out in our environment,” Andonovski said of Thompson. “This camp is not make it or break it. It’s a first experience for her, it’s just something that she shouldn’t even worry about.”

The USWNT also includes a handful of players who have made their USWNT breakthrough this season — thanks in part to both strong NWSL play and injuries to more veteran players. That list includes the likes of Naomi Girma (7 caps), Taylor Kornieck (5 caps), Hailie Mace (5 caps), Sam Coffey (1 cap), and Savannah DeMelo (0 caps).

Andonovski on Thursday called Coffey, a midfielder for the Portland Thorns, a candidate for NWSL MVP.

USWNT Roster for October 2022 Friendlies vs. England and Spain

Goalkeepers (3):

  • Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit)
  • Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage)
  • Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)


  • Alana Cook (OL Reign)
  • Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Sofia Huerta (OL Reign)
  • Hailie Mace (Kansas City Current)
  • Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC)

Midfielders (8):

  • Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville FC)
  • Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyon, FRA)
  • Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave FC)
  • Rose Lavelle (OL Reign)
  • Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
  • Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit)
  • Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6):

  • Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit)
  • Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)
  • Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
  • Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
  • Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC)
  • Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy)

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”