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Olympique Lyon steal late win against Barcelona; Portland beats Houston on PKs – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer / Thorns FC

The third edition of the Women’s International Champions Cup also kicked off this Wednesday night in Portland, Oregon, with three first time competitors. Olympique Lyon took on fellow European side, Barcelona, while the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash competed, representing the NWSL. Here’s what happened in the semifinal matches.

FC Barcelona 2, Olympique Lyon 3

Barcelona, the reigning champions of Spain and Europe, took on the reigning tournament champions from 2019 in Olympique Lyon. Both sides featured numerous new signings, Lyon with the most, starting Danielle Van de Donk, Christiane Endler, and Signe Bruun. The most notable addition to the Spanish team was in the center of defense in the form of Irene Paredes. But both sides really relied on their veterans in this matchup.

It was veteran Mariona Caldentey who would get Barcelona on the board first, just ten minutes in. Aitana Bonmati played a brilliant ball in behind that Mariona did well to finish one on one with Endler. It was another veteran, this time for Lyon, who would find the equalizer ten minutes after. Selma Bacha provided her first assist of the night with a quality cross, headed down and in by Amel Majri. Bacha would provide another assist just a little later, this time from a corner kick. It resulted in a headed goal for former Thorn, Amandine Henry, in her return to Providence Park.

Lyon came out of half with the lead but Barcelona pushed for twenty minutes and eventually found the equalizer thanks to Mariona’s second goal of the night. The chance came from a bad giveaway out of the back, giving Alexia Putellas a shot on target. The captain’s shot was saved initially by Endler but Mariona was there to slot it home from a tight angle. It looked like it might go to penalties but young French striker Melvine Malard was able to capitalize on a similar situation to score the winner. Majri had the initial shot that was saved by Sandra Paños but she couldn’t hold on and Malard was there to tap it home. With only five minutes left Barcelona couldn’t find another equalizer, and Lyon came out on top.

Portland Thorns 2 (3), Houston Dash 2 (1)

The reigning Challenge Cup Champions, Portland Thorns, took on the 2020 winners of said competition, Houston Dash, to a thrilling conclusion that saw the hosts advance to the final on Saturday. Both sides were missing significant players in the form of their Olympians, though the Dash had Sophie Schmidt and Rachel Daly back. Portland put out a very young, inexperienced lineup, while the Dash lineup featured Jasmyne Spencer at outside back. 

Rachel Daly and Shea Groom were the stars of the show for Houston. Daly’s workrate has to be mentioned alongside the assists she provided on both of Groom’s goals. The first goal, coming twenty minutes in, was a great curling finish from the top of the box. The second was created close to halftime by sharp, quick interchange, started by Latsko, and finishing with Groom in the box, slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Going into the half, Houston had the two goal lead and looked firmly on top in the match, but Portland weren’t going to give up without a fight.

Portland came out of the break fighting and managed to pull one back in just five minutes. The fifteen year-old Olivia Moultrie had a massive second half, providing the assist to the first Thorn goal with her corner kick service. That goal was scored by Natalia Kuikka, who normally plays outside back but moved up into the midfield today. Kuikka got good power on her header inside the box while her teammates created traffic in front of Amanda Dennis who couldn’t make the save. Just seven minutes later, Moultrie, who started and played the entire match, scored the equalizer from a free kick. The direct shot didn’t have a ton of power on it but the curl took it just out of Dennis’ reach.

Both sides continued fighting but neither side could find a winner in regulation so, to penalty kicks it went. The shotstoppers to step in net are very inexperienced at the pro level. This was just Dennis’ second appearance, while Shelby Hogan was making her professional debut, as a Thorn. But, goalkeeper coach (and German legend), Nadine Angerer must have some magic she gives her keepers because Hogan saved THREE of the four shots she faced. Hogan started off by saving two kicks in a row while Megan Klingenberg converted Portland’s first. Dennis made a save too, stopping Kuikka’s attempt that didn’t have enough power on it. Daly would convert the only PK for Houston while Moultrie scored to add to her list of contributions on the night. Going into the fourth round of kicks Hogan made another save, this time on Houston’s hometown hero Abam, allowing Simone Charley to slot her attempt into the corner and win the game for Portland.

WICC Final & Third Place Game

Both matches will be streamed on ESPN channels in the U.S., and on the DAZN UWCL YouTube channel internationally. Both games will be played on Saturday in Portland, Oregon, and tickets are still available so if you have the chance to see these incredible players live, don’t miss out. The third-place game will be played at 4:30 p.m. PT between Houston Dash and FC Barcelona. The final will take place at 7 p.m. PT between NWSL league leaders, Portland Thorns, and the European powerhouse that is, Olympique Lyon.





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‘This is a democracy’ – Equalizer Soccer

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Photo Copyright Hannah di Lorenzo

FIFA’s technical advisory group for the future of women’s soccer was announced on Monday, and while the 21-person group comprised of current and former players, coaches and executives, have been meeting about the holistic future of the sport, the future of the World Cup remains the most pressing global topic.

FIFA is exploring the possibility of a biennial World Cup for the men’s and women’s competitions. On Tuesday, reports emerged that the world governing body informed federations that it will move forward with plans for a Men’s World Cup every two years, following 2026. The future of the women’s game is being handled separately, with two-time World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis leading the group. FIFA president Gianni Infantino spoke in the group’s first meeting, according to United States forward Alex Morgan, who is one of the 21 members being led by Ellis, her former coach.

Ellis said on Monday that no decision has been made yet regarding the future of the World Cup, refuting the idea that a biennial event is a foregone conclusion.

“This has been an education process for me,” Ellis said. “I think I’ve really tried to take the position of listening to everybody and finding out solutions, but to reinforce, this is a democracy. This is going to go to a vote, ultimately.”

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Amanda Vandervort brings wealth of experience to USL Super League – Equalizer Soccer

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Amanda Vandervort knew what she needed to do from the first phone call. It was summer, and Jake Papadakis, the COO of the United Soccer League, was on the other end of the phone with news. The USL was starting a second-division women’s professional league, and they were interested in having Vandervort shape its future.

Vandervort, a longtime soccer executive across various leagues and roles, had recently departed her role as chief women’s football officer at global players’ association FIFPRO, and she was thinking about the next step in her career. She previously worked in MLS for nine years, eventually advancing to vice president of fan engagement. Last week, she was announced as the president of the USL Super League, a women’s professional league which is scheduled to begin play in 2023.

“I was in the women’s game for a long time, helped launch WPS [in 2009],” Vandervort told The Equalizer. “When I left that league and went to men’s soccer, I always knew — I kept working in the women’s game concurrently — but I always knew there was the opportunity to learn as much as I could in the men’s game and ultimately, I knew I would bring that back to the women’s game in my career.”

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Three teams are in – Equalizer Soccer

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Washington Spirit players raise their arms in celebration after scoring a goal in North Carolina


Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

Claire Watkins and John Halloran break down where each team stands heading into the final games of the regular season. The Thorns have clinched the Shield, and will be joined in the playoffs by OL Reign and the Spirit. The Red Stars, Gotham FC, Dash, and Courage are fighting for the remaining three spots.

Listen to this pod on:  Apple  |  Spotify  |  Google Podcasts  |  Stitcher  |  Anchor  |  PodBean  |  Pocket Casts  |  Breaker  |  Overcast  |  RadioPublic

LISTEN NOW: The Equalizer has a second podcast vertical called “Kickin’ Back.” Jeff Kassouf hosts this interview-based podcast series which will feature casual conversations with some of the game’s biggest names, looking back at some of the biggest moments in their careers. Click here to subscribe on your favorite platform.

Subscribers: Click below for the ad-free version.

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