Ep. 29: Kelley O’Hara talks about USWNT, soccer in America

December 21, 2021

It’s not every day that I get to talk with my favorite player in one of my favorite sports. So, to speak with US Soccer defender Kelley O’Hara was a thrill.

As a player, O’Hara is known for her intensity and her combative play on the right side of the USWNT’s back four. She’s also been called reliable and sometimes “bossy” by fellow players Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan. But O’Hara says it’s all part of the job.

“I guess we (defenders) are a bit bossy at times. But we have to be,” O’Hara said, coupled with a laugh and an intimation that she’s not the in the least bit offended.

“Our communication as defenders with the midfield and forwards is all about making sure we are as a unit defending the way we need to be.”

O’Hara also explains that straightforward and excellent communication between the USWNT’s players is one of the main reasons that they are a huge success, and why she and the 2015 and 2019 squads were so dominant in their FIFA World Cup campaigns.

Rapinoe “ice in her veins” and Ertz “fun to play with”

When I asked O’Hara about teammates, she had tons to say about superstar striker Alex Morgan, but also midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz.

Specifically, she points to Pinoe’s ability to place free kicks and passes to fellow players, as well as her prowess in sinking penalty kicks.

“Throughout the World Cup, (Rapinoe) just had ice in her veins, and she’s so lethal. I’ve never seen another player up close like that be so good at something time and again.”

Fellow USA stars Julie Ertz (left) and Megan Rapinoe are legends in Kelley O’Hara’s mind.

On central midfielder Julie Ertz, O’Hara equally a huge fan.

“Julie is such a beast. I feel like after every game I’m always in awe of her. She’s always breaking up plays, and always where she needs to be when it comes to the defensive position.”

In Episode 29 of the podcast, Kelley O’Hara also talks in detail about her role with Safe Places to Play, a soccer program put together by the US Soccer Foundation and Powerade, that builds soccer parks and mini-pitches for kids to play and practice soccer.

Read my most recent Forbes.com interview with Kelley O’Hara here.

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