Ali Riley

Looking ahead to Champions League

"The key is clinical clearance"

Published January 11, 2015, 12:00

Most players in Damallvenskan have been away and some have gone on vacation to warm countries. Most foreign players took the opportunity to go home to family and friends. damfotboll.com have a longer interview talked with FC Rosengård defender Alexandra (Ali) Riley who was in Los Angeles. She looks forward to 2015 with FC Rosengård and the early start of the season with the challenge of meeting VfL Wolfsburg in the UEFA Women's Champions League.

When we talk to 27-year-old who has been given in LdB FC Malmö (FC Rosengård) starting eleven since she came here in 2012, it is over 15 degrees Celsius in California and a vacation to the Dominican Republic is behind Ali.

We start with Marta who has been ready for three more seasons for FC Rosengård. Ali Riley and Marta will thus soon begin their fourth single season since the time of FC Gold Pride, the Western New York Flash and now also in Sweden. What does Marta's endorsement for the club? 
- I'm really excited about this, begin Ali. 
- Of course, we hoped that she would stay. With her ​​explosiveness, she was a great addition to the team. Certainly we played already very good before she came, but she adds that little extra. That is exactly what we need when we need to leave Sweden and playing out in Europe in the Champions League. I like her both as a person and as a player. We have played together on the left side a lot and I have learned so much from her.

Alexandra Riley plays as familiar to the New Zealand national team, but she was born, then in the US and was schooled as soccer players in California. She has both New Zealand grid and US citizenship.

How do you remember your first time as a pro in the old WPS? 
- I loved it. I got to play with Christine Sinclair, Marta, Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris, with the world's best players simply. I was lucky to be part of two very good teams (FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash, both of which won the WPS title with Ali, editor's note.), But the bad thing was understood that our team Gold Pride went bankrupt and then asked the entire league out. This bitter aftertaste from the WPS will always be there for me and it's pretty sad, because I had a very good time otherwise. I look forward to coming back to play in the American League at some point. Of course, one could say like if it happened to Tyreso in Sweden, but the entire league would fall apart I do not think could happen here in Sweden.

Alexandra Riley himself has designated itself as a "late bloomer" in an American interview. I asked her to explain what she meant. She laughs: 
- Yes, that's right. I did not play for a club until I was 14 years old. For many girls already played with the boys or in the good team, I'm sure something of a late bloomer. I had speeden required, but I really had zero technique. I also did not have the best training, so really it was only when I studied at the University of Stanford, I got a coach who took the time with me. He retrained myself from winger to the back and it was probably the most important decision of my fotbollsliv. Yes, one can truly say that it took quite a long time but I developed fortfarade and I think this is a good thing. There is much more to give and I really have great passion for the game. It was probably only in 2007 when I played my first World Cup when I got a taste of the international game that I myself discovered my potential.

When Ali was studying psychology at the University of Stanford and at the same time playing with the university's football team Stanford Cardinals she was team captain and led his team to two semi-finals and finals of the prestigious tournament, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which is actually the breeding ground for the US women's football prowess.

Happiness after second Damallsvenskan Goal

Stanford Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe retrained her as a back: 
- She is so unbelievably good in the game forward. I knew she would be able to fly forward and be even better from a back position with more areas to run on, Ratcliffe said in an interview with ESPN.

You played it together with Christen Press of Stanford? 
- Well, I played with Christen Press, but also with Kelly O'Hara and Rachel Buehler Stanford. Christen is really a target machine and she has gotten better every year and it's been fun to see her progress. I am confident that she will be a very important player for the US national team, not least in the World Cup.

Alexandra Riley had been able to play for the same team that Christen, but instead it became New Zealand. Why and how was it? 
- I've never played with youth national team or with what we call the Olympic Development Team, ODA. Many of my teammates was there, but as I said before, it took some time for me to get started and really stake everything on football. 2006 I had the opportunity of playing U20 with New Zealand and it was already the last Year of Youth. 2007 was the World Cup and it would have been crazy if I had not taken the opportunity to play the World Cup when I was 20 years old. I really loved every minute I have played with New Zealand. We have great things ahead of us, of course it's different than playing in the world's best and now the second best team according to the ranking, but I really loved the trip I have been on. And my national team is something special and like a family to me.

Alexandra explains that it also has advantages for her position: 
- Even when we are not going so well, I had enormous pressure on me in the defensive, I had to develop quickly as a player. I got to play against the United States and Japan when I was 19, 20 years old. You grow up fast and you see what it takes to become one of the best slopes. No, once again, this decision (to play for New Zealand) was the right thing for me. I have not looked back, but the decision has helped me tremendously to develop.

New Zealand has fallen into Group A of this year's World Cup and will play against China, the Netherlands, and not least the host nation Canada. How do you feel this? 
- We met with China when it was the host country and we had Storbtitannien when they were hosts (OS). To have the honor to play against the host nation is either a blessing or a curse. It is very exciting and I think our group is very interesting. There is no law on paper can be run over. Some may think we are, but I hope we are not. And we have not randomly assigned to one of the big five. Canada is a very respectable team, they do a very good job, but there is a difference to play against the United States, Germany, Japan or France. It is a dangerous group because there is no easy victory there, but it's good for us. We have played a lot against China, we often play against Canada and know them well, they have New Zealand's old coach, and Holland, we meet every year in the Cyprus Cup. We of course hope to win the group, but to finish it as 1st or 2nd would be very important for the next round ..

We change tracks and go slowly back to Sweden. Interview with Ali Riley is in English, but I wonder how it works with Swedish after three seasons in Skåne. 
- In everyday life, it works really well, if we were discussing politics, I would probably not be able to say so much, because my vocabulary is not so big. But it was really important for me to learn the language, assures Riley.

- I live in Sweden, why would I speak English even if all Swedes are really super on it? I think it is something that the club does well, they will not force us, but they encourage us.All trainings, meetings with FC Rosengård is in Swedish and I can say that this is very different from the experience of my teammates have had in Vittsjo or Gothenburg where everyone talking much English on the field. In the beginning the girls translates to one until you are ready to fend for himself. I try to talk as much as Swedish as possible. On the field, when it is stressful at times, I talk English, I can not change that. Anja Mittag and Sara Björk Gunnarsdottir has learned quickly, Marta and Ramona could Swedish previously.There is Anita (Asante) and I have perhaps the biggest challenge, but we want to learn and be a part of the culture.

When she denominator Anita Asante I ask for "The A & A Show," a series of videos with funny football pictures that Ali and Anita have done in recent months and lying out on the web. How did you get the idea and it will be a continuation? 
- We will soon upload a new movie. We love making movies. I did it back in college with Stanford. Then I did it with Kelly O'Hara and then I did it for ESPNW and the Western New York Flash in the WPS and I have also guided by the New Zealand trip around the World Cup 2011. We had a meeting at the club on social media and it arrived Anita wanted to talk more in front of people and when I said that we should work together. We did a little brainstorming and came up with funny things. After the season, some videos are on YouTube, but "The A & A Show" we gave to the women's football side Women Soccer United.

The first big challenge for FC Rosengård 2015 will be the Champions League quarter-finals against VfL Wolfsburg. When Martha was recruited, I did not, she needed to win national gold when it was already at a dead straight road to get there, but her role is probably greater in the Champions League context? 
- Tyreso was also a very strong team but had it harder when Marta was not there. She was simply phenomenal in the Champions League final last year, she adds that little extra.Everyone knows her, everyone is afraid of her, you really do not want to be the defender who has Martha met him. Her right foot is so much better now. She has it all and she's an incredible team player, something I do not think everyone understands.

What will therefore be key for FC Rosengård to win against VfL Wolfsburg, a team with an incredible defense game that has gone with a goal difference of 34 -1 through the Bundesliga? 
- I think the key is clinical clearance, analyzes Alexandra quickly. 
- As you say they have a very good defense. When we get chances we have to put them and that's why I think we could have won at home against them in 2013 where we missed many chances and after that it was like over. There is much about the mental. Wolfsburg players have confidence, they have an incredible setting that could be seen not least in last year's finale, what they went through there and how they still won. It is also something that we need to improve on. When we play, we are in the preseason, it will be our first real game and it is of course a challenge. Pre-season will be really good if we manage to get into our heads that we are tough and unbeatable. The first ten minutes are so important, they set the tone. I look forward to these games, the Champions League is of course one of the reasons why I play in Europe. In the US, you are a bit isolated, the games are good, but you do not play outside the country. The Champions League is so much fun for me, I had hoped that it was only once a year.15px

Now FC Rosengård received Emma Berglund to the back line, but also lost two key players. Kathrin Schmidt, who in my eyes is one of Damallsvenskans best defensive midfielders and Elin Rubensson who can play in several positions. 
- Well, there are two major changes, especially with Schmittie, she was my roommate and one of my best friends in the team. I completely agree with you, she is underrated. The way we play presupposes that you have a player who does the dirty work, make key tackles and delivers key passes. But no one really sees her and it's a tough role to play.But I think that Anita gets that role, she will flaunt it. I could imagine that she also enjoys a bit more expanded freedoms forward, but I also heard great things about Emma Berglund who I think will be a great asset to the team. Speaking of Elin, she had a very important role, although it was not ideal for her. I'm happy for her. She should get the boot in the Swedish national team that almost feels like my other teams.

 

Text: Rainer Fußgänger

 

rainer_fussganger@yahoo.de