Sports

Barca, Lyon, Thorns, Dash to contest ’21 WICC

Barcelona, Lyon, the Houston Dash and the Portland Thorns will take part in the 2021 Women’s International Champions Cup (WICC) to be held Aug. 18-21 at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.

All of the teams taking part won trophies in 2020. Barcelona claimed the 2020 Primera Division and were recently crowned the winners of the 2021 UEFA Women’s Champions League. Lyon won the 2020 French D1 Feminine and the 2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League. The Houston Dash won the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup while the Portland Thorns claimed the 2020 NWSL Fall Series.

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Given the success of the four participants, and the absence of a women’s equivalent to the FIFA Club World Cup, the tournament is being touted as the unofficial world club championship for women’s soccer. WICC matches will be televised live in both English and Spanish on ESPN.

“The WICC will reach new heights this summer as it will be held in one of the most electric soccer venues in the country in Portland’s Providence Park,” said Daniel Sillman, CEO of Relevent Sports Group, which is organizing the event. “There is no other tournament in international club soccer that has four championship teams competing to be called the world’s best.”

This marks the third time the tournament will be held, with the North Carolina Courage triumphing in 2018 and Lyon prevailing in 2019. Other than Lyon, the other three teams taking part in 2021 are all first-time participants.

“The collection of talent that will be participating at this summer’s WICC in Portland is incredible,” said Susie Fiore, the head of the WICC. “To be able to crown the women’s club world champion in Portland, arguably the best women’s soccer city in the country, will make for an iconic experience for both players and fans.”

The players taking part are among the biggest names in the sport. Portland’s contingent includes all-time international goalscorer Christine Sinclair of Canada as well as a pair of former NWSL MVPs in U.S. midfielders Crystal Dunn and Lindsey Horan. Four-time NWSL Defender of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn and Sophia Smith are also set to play for the Thorns.

Houston will rely on the presence of Kristie Mewis and Jane Campbell as well as Canada’s Sophie Schmidt and England’s Rachel Daly, the 2020 NWSL MVP. Lyon features U.S. midfielder Catarina Macario as well as international stars Ada Hegerberg, Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry. Barcelona is scheduled to feature Nigeria‘s Asisat Oshoala, Spain‘s Jenni Hermoso and 2017 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Lieke Martens.

“It’s prestigious; you get to show who’s the best team in the world,” said Hegerberg, the first Ballon d’Or Feminin winner, about the WICC in her 2020 documentary “My Name is Ada Hegerberg.”

“It’s really important for us to go there and show the qualities we have and win.”

The tournament will consist of four matches played as two doubleheaders. In the first doubleheader, Lyon will face off against Barcelona while the Thorns will play the Dash. This will set up a Europe versus U.S. final on Aug. 21. The clubs that lose in the first doubleheader will play in the third-place match on the same day as the final.

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