Julian Finney/Getty Images
Kelley O'Hara during the Women's soccer gold medal match on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on August 9, 2012 in London, England.
Southern California women's soccer fans rejoice — the U.S. Women’s soccer team is coming to the Home Depot Center in Carson, where they’ll take on Australia this Sunday.
For those wondering what it takes to be a member of gold-medal-winning team, you can watch them train Saturday at the stadium. Admission to the public training session is free, but you have to RSVP.
U.S. team defender Rachel Buehler spoke with KPCC.
What’s it like training in front of fans?
"We like to open up our training to the public to allow [fans and] anybody who’s interested in soccer to see what we do to prepare for our game. And it’s also a great way for us to just interact with the fans. After practice, we’ll stay and sign autographs, and ... just let the fans be part of our total experience."
What do fans get to do at the public training session?
"They’re just observing. That’s how it normally goes; [fans] will be on the side and close to where we’re playing and everything, and get a really good view of practice and get to see everything. So it’s just a great way for them to understand what we do to prepare for a game."
What will fans be able to see on Saturday?
"Our public practices are a little bit lighter. We're not really doing any fitness or anything like that. But we usually start with a quick warmup, and then a passing pattern is what we call it, and we’re just passing the ball around in different pattern formations to just get a touch of the ball. And then we’ll end up playing a little bit of small-sided games like 4v4, or 5v5 to goal to kind of get that game pace going, and then sometimes finish off with some shooting, and that’s kind of it. They’re usually a quicker practice, around an hour."
It’s been a few weeks now since the Olympics — has the reality of winning a gold medal sunk in?
"It’s just been a whirlwind since I’ve been home from the Olympics. It’s been amazing about how many fans have really just paid attention to the game, and were so excited about what we did in London. We couldn’t really understand how big that was when we were in London. But then coming home and getting the reception we’ve gotten, it’s just been amazing."
The actual moment of victory: You clinched the gold by beating Japan, and Japan was the team that barely beat the U.S. out at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. What was that moment like?
"It was just an incredible moment. Just to get to represent your country and get the gold medal is like a dream come true. And then for us, facing Japan in that final game — they beat us in the World Cup last year, like you said — and so then to be able to win against them, I think, made it just a little bit sweeter. It was incredible!"
Coach Pia Sundhage, will be with the team this weekend, but soon she’ll be returning to Europe to coach soccer in Sweden. What’s it going to be like for the team to lose its coach?
"Pia has been incredible for us. She is such a positive coach. She’s brought so much good. So it’s definitely going to be tough to lose her. But, you know, we’re happy for her and the opportunity she has in Sweden. But it’s really just going to be time of transition for us. We’ll see who the new coach is and just kind of where they want to take our program. But it’s just been a wonderful thing to have had Pia for five years with us, because she’s really brought a lot to our team and our country."
Rachel Buehler's from Del Mar, San Diego, went to Stanford University —she's a California girl. Is it exciting to be back home in the Golden State?
"I am such a California girl. I just love being in California whenever I can. But it’s so great to be able to play in L.A. where a lot of my friends and family can really come and watch and be part of the experience. You know, I did have family in London, but now, my extended family and all the neighborhood friends and everybody I grew up with… it’s really cool that they can come to the game and just be part of that."
You can come to the game too. It’s happening this Sunday at 12:30p.m. at the Home Depot Center in Carson.