The Women’s International Champions Cup, a mini-tournament with two US teams and two European teams, will come to Providence Park this month.
On Wednesday, August 18, frequent UEFA Champions League winners Olympique Lyonnais will face Spanish league champs FC Barcelona at 5:30 p.m., while the US winners of the National Women’s Soccer League 2020 Challenge Cup and 2020 Fall Series—the Houston Dash and Portland Thorns—play one another at 8 p.m. On Saturday, August 21, the losers of the Wednesday games will play at 4:30 p.m., with the championship to follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are for each day’s doubleheader and cover both games. (Starting August 13, all attendees age 5 and up must wear masks in the stadium when they're not in their seats, and are encouraged to keep them on while seated, too.)
The visitors’ rosters have some familiar faces. For Houston, Gabby Seiler and Emily Ogle were traded to the Dash from the Thorns last December. Amandine Henry, who played for the Thorns in their 2017 championship season, is now with Lyon, as is Ellie Carpenter, the Australian who was the youngest player in NWSL history when she made her debut with the Thorns just after her 18th birthday in 2018. (The “youngest ever title” has since been claimed by the Thorns’ Olivia Moultrie, 15.) Switzerland’s Ana-Maria Crnogorčevič was also a Thorn in 2018 and 2019, in between stints with Frankfurt and now Barcelona.
Fresh from the Olympics, Chilean goalkeeper Christiane Endler will be in Portland with Lyon, though promos for a simultaneous tournament happening in Louisville, Kentucky promise she’ll be there instead—the organizers of the Women’s Cup, a rival international club tournament in its first year, don’t seem to have taken notice of her departure from Lyon rivals Paris Saint-Germain in June. Put on by a different sports entertainment company and also happening Wednesday and Saturday, but in the Eastern time zone, the Women’s Cup features PSG along with frequent NWSL runners-up the Chicago Red Stars, the debutant team Racing Louisville, and Spanish league champs FC Bayern-Munich.
“There was no coordination on timing and there is no link between the two events,” a representative of the WICC organizers told Portland Monthly. Organizers do say the Portland event, which is presented by Budweiser and airing on ESPN channels, will crown the “World’s Best Club.” The Louisville tournament organizers—who postponed a soccer/music fest in Daytona (“the greatest soccer event of all time is coming to the premiere venue in sports”) to 2022 due to the pandemic—say they will showcase the “best of the best in women’s soccer.” Sponsored in part by Jack Daniels, the Women’s Cup games will stream on Paramount+, a CBS property.
It’s a little like when two Truman Capote films came out at the same time, or two mall cop movies, or White House Down opening just a few months after Olympus Is Fallen, or the Lombard House and the Lombard Pub opening one mile and one month apart. A little awkward? Yes. But as we can never have enough Capote dramas, mall-set comedies, “the President is in danger!” action flicks, and friendly North Portland watering holes, so can we never have too much women’s soccer on TV.