After enjoying her experience in the Rose City during the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season in 2013, Thorns FC defender Rachel Buehler—a native of Del Mar in sunny southern California—has made Portland a permanent home during the offseason while she prepares for her second campaign with Thorns FC in 2014.
It all fell into place around mid-August, as Portland was set to begin its quest to lift the league’s inaugural championship trophy. Buehler’s husband, Bobby, had the good fortune to work out a transfer from San Diego to his employer’s Portland office. The move was the final puzzle piece toward making Buehler a year-round Portland resident where she joins other USWNT players like Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Megan Rapinoe and Thorns FC teammate Christine Sinclair as standout women’s soccer players who maintain a residence in the Rose City.
“I think it was just a combination of several different things,” Buehler said of the choice to remain in Portland during the offseason instead of heading home to California. “First of all, after playing in Portland and with Bobby coming to visit, we both just realized what a cool city this is and saw that we could be happy living here. That was the first aspect. We were sick of living apart all the time. With him being in San Diego while I’m up here in season is not ideal.
Know Your Thorns: Rachel Buehler
“Bobby’s company has an office in Portland and he was able to get transferred up to this office. Once all that happened, it was a no-brainer [to stay] because we don’t want to spend six months apart all the time. We really like Portland and have enjoyed living here. It’s like a fun adventure for us at the moment. It all kind of came together at the same time.”
Having just finished a December training camp with the U.S. Women’s National Team in Carson, Calif., Buehler has had a bit more free time to explore Portland and the surrounding area with Bobby during the NWSL’s six-month offseason – despite having to brave the cold and wet winter weather.
“We have been doing our best to explore, it was kind of a bummer because we missed a lot of the summer,” Buehler said. “We went on this hike at the base of Mt. Hood and we thought it wasn’t going to be snowy yet. We got there and it was snowing and [the trail was] covered in snow, but we decided to still go on this hike and it was really awesome. We hiked around in the snow for an hour or two and froze to death."
They’ve been around to several other trails and waterfalls close by and also made a trip to Willamette Valley wine country for their first wedding anniversary while a trip to Bend is in their future plans. And it hasn’t been limited to hiking and outdoors experiences – the couple are quickly becoming introduced to Portland’s growing culinary culture.
“We got this book of all the Portland restaurants. We’ve been slowly checking places off and going to different spots,” Buehler said. “I didn’t do any music stuff during the season, so we’ve just started checking out places that have more music, too. We went to a place that does country and bluegrass music which was pretty cool.”
Buehler has also been keeping busy with community outreach projects as part of the club's Stand Together platform. Most recently, she was instrumental in helping launch a Rose City Readers program with students at Alder Elementary School in Gresham. The program is designed to get third graders excited about reading.
But the 2014 season also approaches and in order to stay sharp when not in camp with the national team, Buehler and several other Thorns players have taken to the pitch at JELD-WEN Field to work on their touch and fitness. Buehler also put together a futsal team with other Thorns players (and Bobby donning the ‘keeper gloves) that frequently plays at Rose City Futsal in a very competitive men’s league.
While the long-term plan eventually leads back to San Diego after her playing career is over, for now Buehler is loving life in the Rose City.
“I really love living in Portland,” Buehler said. “We’re really outdoorsy and I think that’s what we’ve valued the most – how beautiful it is up here and how you can get out of the city and there’s so much to do. Even in the city there’s so much to do.”