WakeMed Soccer Park will host the 2019 edition of the Women’s International Champions Cup and this year, the North Carolina Courage will be hosting Club Atlético de Madrid Femenino, Manchester City W.F.C. and Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.
The Courage ran out as winners last year while OL finished in second and Manchester City finished in third. This will be Atlético Madrid’s first appearance in the competition as the three overseas teams continue to ramp up their pre-season preparations.
The current Primera Iberdrola champions come into the competition as newcomers and although their name may not be as well known as those like Man City and OL, they are still a formidable team. Atleti signed the likes of Toni Duggan and Women’s World Cup Golden Glove winner Sari van Veenendaal during the summer transfer window as they look to not only boost their roster but also challenge at the highest level of the women’s game. Duggan and van Veenendaal join the likes of Spanish internationals Virginia Torrecilla and Silvia Meseguer who featured for their country during the World Cup.
Atlético are on paper, the weakest of the four teams in the International Champions Cup this year but they do have elements in their game that their opponents will have to look out for. Like the Spanish national team, Atlético are very good on the ball and have a great passing-and-moving style of play. They may struggle for goals against the tougher defenses they will face in the next few days but they could cause a surprise if defenses are not able to counter how well they will be able to keep possession.
Predicted finish: 4th
Manchester City have made a name for themselves in the women’s game and although they were unable to retain the Barclays FA Women’s Super League last season, have made the right moves in the transfer window to not only challenge domestically but in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. Star striker and England international Ellen White has not been named to the ICC roster but there are still players in City’s roster who are talented enough to overcome most teams.
Among those players looking to gear up for the upcoming season in England are the likes of Jill Scott, Steph Houghton and Janine Beckie who will all be familiar to those who not only follow the women’s game but also the National Women’s Soccer League as Beckie was with the Houston Dash and Sky Blue FC over a period of three years. Fitness may be an issue for City as it will be for Atlético and OL but that does not mean they do not have the ability to hurt teams when they get forward.
Predicted finish: 3rd
No other team has been as heralded in women’s soccer as Olympique Lyonnais have been. Not only are they one of the top teams in the world in terms of what they offer players financially but they are also the most dominant team in France and in Europe. OL have a record 17 league titles and are current holders of the Champions League after winning it for the sixth time in May. Despite it being pre-season, the sheer quality throughout the team will make OL the Courage’s most competitive rival at the ICC.
The list of top players named in OL’s roster for the competition is long but if you were to pick out players who could dominate proceedings, look no further than Ada Hegerberg, Dzsenifer Marozsán, Amadine Henry and Lucy Bronze. These players need no introduction as they have been playing at the top of their game for years now, leading OL to record goal tallies, trophies and more over the last few years. OL have also added Alex Greenwood and Nikita Parris to an already formidable lineup of players so despite the players not being fully match fit, they should still be able to thrill any fans of the game who decide to watch them.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Thursday, August 15, 5pm EDT: Olympique Lyonnais vs. Atlético de Madrid, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Thursday, August 15, 7.30pm EDT: North Carolina Courage vs. Manchester City, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Sunday, August 18, 5pm EDT: Third-place play-off, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Sunday, August 18, 7:30pm EDT: Final, Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.