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Pia Sundhage took over as coach shortly after Krieger left for Germany, and Krieger had some fears that being so far away might keep her out of the mix for the U.S. team. But Sundhage, a Swede, knows all about the German league and how good its players are, and was impressed that the young American was more than holding her own.

Krieger helped Frankfurt win the German Cup again this season.

“Her experience in the Bundesliga has been good for her,” Sundhage said. “When I saw her in 2008, she was a different player than she is today. She’s more technical. Her decision making in attack reminds me a bit of the way Germany is playing.”

Sundhage called Krieger up for a May 22, 2010, game _ against Germany, no less _ and she’s been a staple on the U.S. team ever since. When veteran defender Heather Mitts suffered a hamstring injury earlier this season, it was Krieger who took her spot.

“It’s hard to come in and out, like ‘OK, is she going to fit into the starting lineup?’” midfielder Shannon Boxx said. “We just feel on the same page now. Two days ago, her game was amazing. She played so great for us, defensively and offensively. I’m glad she was able to do it the way she needed to do it. We need her on this team.”

On Tuesday, the U.S. beat North Korea 2-0 in its opening World Cup match.

Krieger’s contract expired at the end of the season, and she’s unsure what she’ll do when the World Cup is over.

In the meantime, all she wants to do is take her U.S. teammates on a tour of Frankfurt, her home away from home _ and the site of the July 17 final.

“This is something I’ve dreamed of for a long, long time, to play in a World Cup,” Krieger said. “Anywhere in the world to have a final, it’s just amazing that it’s actually in Frankfurt, the place I’ve lived the last three and a half years. Who would have thought?”