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Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, takes a few shots during Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session.
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, takes a few shots during Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, takes a few shots during Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session.
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, takes a few shots during Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goal keeper, signs autographs after Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session.
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goal keeper, signs autographs after Thursday's practice session held at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, signs autographs after Thursday's practice session at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session.
Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper, signs autographs after Thursday's practice session at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Six-year-old Camila Ramirez gets her T-shirt autographed by Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper after Thursday's soccer practice at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany. Camila's father is a U.S. Army warrant officer stationed in Stuttgart, Germany.
Six-year-old Camila Ramirez gets her T-shirt autographed by Hope Solo, the U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper after Thursday's soccer practice at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany. Camila's father is a U.S. Army warrant officer stationed in Stuttgart, Germany. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Carli Lloyd, a U.S. Women's National Team midfielder, signs autographs after Thursday's practice at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session.
Carli Lloyd, a U.S. Women's National Team midfielder, signs autographs after Thursday's practice at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. Many local U.S. military members and their families were invited to watch the practice session. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Girls from Heidelberg High School and Middle School show their support for the U.S. Women's National Team at the team's practice Thursday at SG Kirchheim soccer field before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia.
Girls from Heidelberg High School and Middle School show their support for the U.S. Women's National Team at the team's practice Thursday at SG Kirchheim soccer field before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the Wiesbaden soccer club show their support for the U.S. Women's National Team at Thursday's practice session at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia.
Members of the Wiesbaden soccer club show their support for the U.S. Women's National Team at Thursday's practice session at SG Kirchheim soccer field in Heidelberg, Germany, before the team's second 2011 World Cup game against Colombia. (Joshua L. DeMotts/Stars and Stripes)
Alex Morgan, left, stretches to reach a pass as Abby Wambach, center, gets into position and Rachel Buehler defends. The U.S. women's national soccer team held an open practice in Heidelberg on Thursday that was attended by hundreds of members of the American military communities. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim.
Alex Morgan, left, stretches to reach a pass as Abby Wambach, center, gets into position and Rachel Buehler defends. The U.S. women's national soccer team held an open practice in Heidelberg on Thursday that was attended by hundreds of members of the American military communities. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Coach Pia Sundhage watches her team work out during an open practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of American military communities came out to watch the U.S. national women's soccer team prepare for their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim.
Coach Pia Sundhage watches her team work out during an open practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of American military communities came out to watch the U.S. national women's soccer team prepare for their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Heather Mitts sends a pass down field during a U.S. women's national soccer team practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of  American military communities came out to watch the team. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim.
Heather Mitts sends a pass down field during a U.S. women's national soccer team practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of American military communities came out to watch the team. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Kelley O'Hara, right, tries to slice the ball past teammate Hope Solo during a U.S. women's national soccer team practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of  American military communities came out to watch the team. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim.
Kelley O'Hara, right, tries to slice the ball past teammate Hope Solo during a U.S. women's national soccer team practice Thursday in Heidelberg. Hundreds of members of American military communities came out to watch the team. The WNT plays their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Christie Rampone, right, and other members of the U.S. women's national soccer team sign autographs Thursday following an open practice session in Heidelberg, Germany. The practice was attended by hundreds of members of the American military communities. The women play their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim.
Christie Rampone, right, and other members of the U.S. women's national soccer team sign autographs Thursday following an open practice session in Heidelberg, Germany. The practice was attended by hundreds of members of the American military communities. The women play their second game of the World Cup against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

HEIDELBERG, Germany — Thirteen-year-old Rachel Braun stood with a swarm of soccer fans near the practice field and boldly told Hope Solo she wanted her job someday.

Solo, goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Team, wished Rachel well.

“I got Solo,” Rachel yelled moments later, referring to the player’s autograph. “That’s all I came for.”

Daniela Leyba, 14, did Rachel one better. She asked forward Abby Wambach to sign the red soccer jersey she was wearing.

“I’m not going to wear it anymore,” Daniela said as she surveyed the signature.

The two Heidelberg teens were among hundreds of Americans who on Thursday attended an open practice of members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. While some local Germans attended the practice at SG Kirchheim stadium in Heidelberg, the opportunity was for Americans affiliated with the U.S. military.

After the workout, members of the team mingled with fans, signed autographs and posed for pictures. Their next match in the 2011 Women’s World Cup is against Colombia on Saturday in Sinsheim, the second game of opening round play.

Three busloads of Americans from the U.S. military community in Stuttgart drove more than an hour to watch the practice, said John Hamilton, a morale, welfare and recreation employee in Stuttgart.

Other U.S. soccer fans came from as far away as Ansbach.

“It’s the American team in Germany,” said 12-year-old Gabrielle Gehler, who came by bus from Stuttgart with her father and younger sister. “It doesn’t happen every day.”

Sporting camouflage battle dress uniforms, Sgt. 1st Class Scott Gaiski and Sgt. Travis Strickland spent their lunch hour taking in the event, which was attended by about 500 people. Gaiski and Strickland are assigned to the 30th Medical Command at Tompkins Barracks in nearby Schwetzingen.

“Something like this is a great opportunity,” Strickland said.

“Especially if they win the cup,” Gaiski added.

Even if the U.S. team doesn’t capture the World Cup, Daniela, Rachel and the rest of the U.S. soccer faithful were pleased to be part of the action.

“It’s nice to see your soccer role models,” said 12-year-old Margaux Stephens. The players are “like our gods.”

doughertyk@estripes.osd.mil

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