In Kennesaw, Ga., just outside of KSU Soccer Stadium -- home of the Atlanta Beat -- site of the 2010 WPS All-Star Game presented by U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, it's all smiles and good times.
Coached by FC Gold Pride's own Albertin Montoya, Team Marta XI -- which, totally unrelated but notable nonetheless is that the subway system in Atlanta is called MARTA -- ran the usual Albertin Montoya-style drills for a couple hours on the eve of the All-Star game which is Wednesday night, 5 p.m. PT, at KSU Soccer Stadium.
"We did similar drills that we do in practice so that was nice for me," said Pride captain Rachel Buehler, who was picked by Marta in the Monday night pick-em event. Buehler, Christine Sinclair and Marta are on one side; Kelley O'Hara and Shannon Boxx will be on Team Wambach XI (Abby Wambach's club). "It was a new group of people so that always puts a different spin on it."
That new group of people is comprised of the world's best, at least according to women's soccer. "There's definitely really great, really talented group, so it makes for a fun practice," Buehler said.
Of course, the Pride is preparing for a game on Saturday, also at KSU Soccer Stadium, but against the Atlanta Beat. Montoya is hoping to create an edge during the All-Star Game.
"Well, the plan is for our players to play maybe about 20, 25 minutes and the Atlanta players will play a full 90," Montoya said jokingly. "They are the home team and the fans want to see them out there right? So it's only fair to put them in there for the 90."
On Montoya's side for the Atlanta Beat is Ramona Bachmann and Aya Miyama. He won't play them that long, but it wouldn't be a shocker if his players got out of the game before the Beat -- maybe spark some controversy into this controversy-thirsting league.
Perhaps Paul Riley -- coach of both Philadelphia Independence and the opposite All-Star club -- will run down the legs of Boxx and O'Hara, forcing Montoya to sit them on Saturday. After all, the Independence are just one point behind the Pride heading into the game's this weekend.
Riley does expect offenses to run wild on Saturday -- especially after what he saw in practice Tuesday morning.
"It's going to be wide open. We are playing a 3-5-2, I haven't lined up like that in 10 years. We did seven vs. seven (drill) today and there wasn't a whole lot of defending going on, so I'm expecting a lot of goals," said Riley. "There might not be a ton of effort defensively, but there will certainly be a ton of effort offensively."
However, Buehler (of the defensive wall mindset) thinks the game may play out a little different.
"I could say 1 or 2-0 for our team," said Buehler. "I don't know. I'm not good at throwing out scores. Hopefully we win though, is all I can say."
Marta picked the starting XI for her club and was pretty excited over the fact she got to tell Montoya what do for a change. "Yes," said Marta emphatically. "Pick this one," she said in reference to the pick-em event on Monday -- and Montoya had to comply.
Meanwhile, O'Hara, a rookie this year for the Pride, is just soaking it all in. From Georgia, O'Hara is pretty excited about the event, and joining in on the squabbles between clubs.
"Everyone's just looking to enjoy themselves and have a little fun," said O'Hara. "But there's also been a little trash-talking already between the two teams."
Trash talking was not disclosed -- nor could it be -- for this blog, however.
Wednesday night, whoever prevails, that club will have the ultimate trash talking -- at least until next year's All-Star Game.