Ali Riley, who grew up in Pacific Palisades, is set to play in her fourth Olympic Games as co-captain of the New Zealand women’s soccer team, starting tomorrow.
In the 2008 Olympics, Riley played every minute of New Zealand’s three games (Japan, Norway and the United States). She also played every minute in the 2012 Olympics in London, and also all three games at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
New Zealand’s captain since 2017, the 5′-5″ Riley, 33, is once again a dominant player on her team.
On July 10, former Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni blasted Riley’s club [Orlando], saying it discriminated against the New Zealand national team by electing not to release the country’s two captains ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
He said both the Orlando Pride and the North Carolina Courage refused to release Riley and Abby Erceg from Week 8 of the NWSL season while stars from Brazil, Canada and the United States were allowed to report to their teams in Tokyo.
“It’s outrageous,” Sermanni said in the ESPN report. “These athletes are all going to the same major tournament, and those clubs have released every single Olympic athlete except for the New Zealanders. It’s unprofessional, unethical and shows a complete lack of respect for the players and New Zealand football. In fact, it reeks of discrimination.”
There are 12 soccer teams in the Olympics and New Zealand is in Group G, which includes the United States, Sweden and Australia. New Zealand plays Australia on Wednesday, July 21; the United States on July 24 and Sweden on July 27.
Riley, who has dual citizenship, attended St. Matthew’s, Harvard-Westlake and Stanford, where she played four years with the Cardinals, graduating in 2009. She was drafted by FC Gold Pride for the Women’s Professional Soccer League. When backers couldn’t be found, she signed with the Western New York Flash.
The WPS was suspended and Riley, an outside back, moved to Sweden and played for Rosengard until 2018. She played for Bayern Munich for a year before moving back to the U.S. and the Orlando Pride.
In July 2020, Riley returned to Sweden to be with her partner during the pandemic and rejoined Rosengård on loan. Now she is back with Orlando.
Her parents, John Riley and Beverly Lowe, live in the Alphabet streets. Riley started with AYSO before joining a club team, the Westside Breakers, in 1998.