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USWNT stars Harris, Krieger announce engagement

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USWNT stars Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger have confirmed they are engaged.

Speaking to People magazine, the duo who play for Orlando Pride in the NWSL said they got engaged at Clearwater Beach in Florida back in September

Harris proposed to Krieger, and the defender said yes, as they began their romantic relationship almost a decade ago after meeting on USWNT duty.

“Finally, after all these years, I just feel like I don’t have to hide anything or feel like I’m not living up to the community I’m in,” Harris said.

Fans of the duo, who both won the 2015 Women’s World Cup for the U.S. national team, have dubbed their relationship “Krashlyn” in true Hollywood style.

On and off the field, this duo have a wonderful relationship and this is incredible to see.

Barcelona pays tribute to Kobe Bryant; Neymar, USWNT’s Krieger in star-studded video

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Kobe Bryant’s final NBA game is sliding in neatly to Barcelona’s Twitter timeline, even on the eve of a critical UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg.

Barca plays Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday, holding a 2-1 lead from last week’s leg at the Camp Nou.

[ MORE: City-PSG recap | Hart loved “fantastic encounter” ]

But the La Liga club, a big fan of Bryant’s and vice versa, also knows that the Los Angeles Lakers legend is playing his final NBA game on esday night,

Also, you can check the above video to see many Barcelona stars (Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta) and United States women’s national team back Ali Krieger paying tribute to Bryant in a Nike ad.

Men in Blazers podcast: BlazerCon special with the USWNT

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At BlazerCon, World Cup Champions Ali Krieger, Heather O’Reilly and Becky Sauerbrunn discussed their magical summer, meeting the President and the future of the women’s game with Fox Sports 1’s Katie Nolan.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Krieger credits Ellis, communication for United States’ defensive success

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The United States defense has been immense throughout the World Cup. Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg have played tremendous, keeping a 513-minute shutout streak and keeping most shots from reaching goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The U.S. has been scored on only once, in the opener against Australia. U.S. coach Jill Ellis has finally found a perfect back-four grouping of players that communicate, play well together, and shutdown the oppositions biggest threats.

Lotta Schelin, Caitlin Foord, Asisat Oshoala, Lady Andrade, Anja Mittag and Celia Sasic were all pretty much neutralized and on an island when up against the No. 2-ranked United States. The Americans will hope to do the same on Sunday in the World Cup final against Japan.

[KASSOUF: 2011 memory still burns Wambach | Lloyd, Brian revitalize US]

Much of the credit for the U.S. success has been given to a solid defensive game plan. In any team sport, communication and an understanding is a huge factor for teams that win championships. Krieger knows the importance of having excellent dialogue and communication on the pitch.

“Every single game we are trying to have quality performances and when we do make a mistake right after we speak about it, and we fix it,” she said. “Then at halftime we’ll say what do you need from me, what do I need from you. This is how I feel, what can be better, what needs to be better, and what do we need to fix in order to help the team or the front-six to be successful and score goals. I think that we’ve just done a great job of communicating and making sure that each of us are feeling comfortable and confident in our position.”

While other teams — including the hosts Canada — have preached about being the most connected and together team, the U.S. have proudly shown how much support they have for one and other. Players aren’t afraid to comment and make tactical suggestions off the pitch and during actual game action. In-match adjustments are key, and not every player is comfortable with one and other to make such a switch during the course of play. Krieger and Johnston make a habit of staying organized throughout.

“It’s all about the communication, ‘hey’ from J.J… ‘Ali you can push wide or stay and hold,'” Krieger said, describing some of the communications. “I think that we have that down pat and I think that we’ve done such a great job of really organizing and staying compact and just expecting a lot of that out of each other. I think that all starts with having good communication and that’s also having good relationships with the players around you. As long as you have that good communication, the pressure and cover balance has been excellent for us. We just try and stay comfortable, and confident as a collective group and that’s what I think we’ve done really well at.”

[MORE: Krieger says posing naked in magazine ’empowering’ for women]

Ellis has added an emphasis on team defending and that includes her taking an initiative to help improve the back line. While she could have delegated coaching duties, Ellis has taken an active role as a line coach for the defense. This has helped immensely in structuring the team play in front of Solo. This has also helped players to quickly understand areas for in-game situations where they might need improvement.

“It starts with the team defending at first and then at times she’s our line coach as well so I think that, that is also important,” Krieger said. “That’s what helped me personally in the last World Cup. I think we had Erica Walsh as our line coach. I think it’s just finding little details like maybe my footwork and maybe in the Australia game when I got caught back twice in some of their opportunities.”

Japan and the U.S. have a history and because Japan claimed victory over the U.S. in the 2011 World Cup final, there has to be somewhat of a small revenge factor. Both teams have different styles and tactics, and formations have completely evolved. However, whichever way you slice it, the United States would like nothing better than to beat Japan.

Krieger missed out on the 2012 London Olympics — where the U.S. beat Japan in the final — with a torn ACL and MCL. Her memory of the 2011 World Cup final is something she isn’t willing to over-think it and focus on with this World Cup final on the horizon.

“Obviously you think about that, but it’s four years later,” she said. “It’s a new team – both sides, it’s a new tournament and I think we’re obviously very happy we’re playing against Japan in the final. It gives us a little bit more motivation because of that loss four years ago, but that I don’t think that has anything to do with their team now, and our team now because it’s a lot different than it was four years ago.”

The U.S. and Japan always seem to produce breathtaking matches with end-to-end action up and down the pitch. Sunday should be no different. These teams know each other well and Japan coach Norio Sasaki and Ellis will be doing their best to make sure their team comes out on top in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final match from BC Place.

US defender Krieger ready for familiar foe Germany in meeting of world’s top two teams

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MONTREAL – Ali Krieger says she isn’t quite as sharp as she once was at speaking German, but her words still earn a thumbs-up from fluent German reporters.

The United States national team defender is fluent herself, having spent the majority of her professional club playing career in Germany with 1. FFC Frankfurt. There, she won the treble – UEFA Champions League, Frauen-Bundesliga and German Cup – in her first season with the team, 2007-2008.

Krieger remained in Germany through mid-2012 (with a brief stint in the U.S. in 2009), so she is very familiar with many of Germany’s players, who will serve as opponents in Tuesday’s Women’s World Cup semifinal. And as the only fluent German speaker on the U.S. team, she should be able to understand some of her opponent’s communication.

“Yes, but I don’t know how quickly I’ll be able to tell my teammates,” Krieger says, drawing a laugh. She also joked that she’s played more with the German players than against them.

[KASSOUF: U.S. shows confidence in win  |  O’Hara shines; high pressure pays off]

Tuesday marks the meeting of No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the world, for the right to play in the World Cup final in Vancouver next Sunday. The U.S. trained indoors on a windy, rainy and unseasonably cool day in Montreal on Sunday. U.S. defender Christie Rampone was the only player who sat out training, due to a quad strain; a U.S. Soccer spokesman called Rampone sitting “precautionary.”

Germany arrived to this stage of the competition by finishing atop a relatively easy group before throttling world No. 5 Sweden in the round of 16 and escaping world No. 3 France in penalty kicks after being largely outplayed on the day.

The U.S. took an inverted path, finishing atop the tournament’s Group of Death and then getting what objectively could be viewed as the weakest combination of opponents — Colombia and China — in the knockout stage compared to the other three semifinalists.

[MORE: Krieger calls naked magazine photos ’empowering’]

And now the Americans are in Montreal, where they always aimed to be at this stage of the tournament, to take on an old rival which seven months ago stripped them of their No. 1 spot in the FIFA world rankings. Those numbers won’t matter much come Tuesday.

“This is what this tournament is all about, and I really am so happy that we are playing against the No. 1 team in the world,” Krieger said. “I think this is what makes it so fun. This is why we’re here. We want to beat the best team in the world. To win the trophy, that’s what you have to do.”

[MORE: France’s Abily rips FIFA for rigged draw, treating players like ‘idiots’]

Despite the rich history of both teams, the Americans are 18-4-7 all-time against Germany. Three times the world’s leading women’s soccer nations have met at the World Cup and on each occasion, the winner of this heavyweight bout has gone on to win the World Cup (USA in the inaugural 1991 tournament and again in 1999; Germany in 2003).

“I did see that statistic, but I don’t know if we sort of think about it like that,” U.S. midfielder Heather O’Reilly said. “I think both teams are focused on eyes on the prize.”

It has been over two years since the teams last met, a 3-3 draw in Offenbach, Germany on April 5, 2013. The Americans haven’t lost to Germany since the 2003 Women’s World Cup semifinals.

On Tuesday, these two programs look to advance on a path to a third Women’s World Cup title. The U.S. won in 1991 and 1999, but the drought is now at 16 years. Germany won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2007 before crashing out in the quarterfinals in 2011 on home soil. They remain the only two programs in the world where, realistically, anything short of a World Cup title remains a failure.

“This is why we train our entire lives and what we train our entire lives for. These are the moments,” Krieger says.

The stakes don’t get much higher than they will be on Tuesday.