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12 hours of soccer in Portland

My experience at the Women’s International Champions Cup Tournament

Wilder Isom

Portland has long been known as a soccer city, and for the second year in a row this year I capitalized on that and attended the Women’s International Champions Cup. This year Portland played host to Olympique Lyonnais, the Rayadas de Monterrey, and Chelsea FC.

I was particularly excited because aside from being a Portland Thorns fan, I am also a pretty big Chelsea fan (I know, I know). Although to be fair, I typically follow women’s soccer only.

This tournament was a great opportunity to see some of the world’s best players all playing in the same place. Players like Sam Kerr, Lindsey Horan, Jessie Flemming, Eugénie Le Sommer, and so many more were descending on the Rose City.

I happily booked two tickets for myself and a friend because I knew this would be something I wanted to see.

Wilder Isom

I arrived at Providence park around 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday and was ready for the first match at 5:30 p.m. I bought a brand new Thorns hoodie and a hard cider and was prepared to watch some soccer. Chelsea was set to take on Olympique Lyonnais first. I would have easily put money on Chelsea taking the win. The game started fairly level with both teams fairly even. The spell was broken in the 8th minute when Sam Kerr, the fantastic player she is, scored via chipping the keeper. Nothing big happened for the remainder of the first half and I went into halftime feeling fairly confident.

The second half did nothing but spur my hope that Chelsea would indeed pull off the win. Lauren James put a goal away in the 55th minute to double the lead.

However, the beginning of Chelsea’s downfall came from none other than the great Lindsey Horan. A fan favorite, regardless of where she is currently playing, calmly stepped up to take a free kick in the 76th minute. Her kick was a beauty and the crowd absolutely erupted.

I still held on hope that Chelsea would pull through until the 88th minute when Signe Brunn scored. I hardly had expected a tie and was unprepared to deal with the emotions of a PK shootout.

In the end, Chelsea lost 3-4 in the PK shootout and I turned my excitement onto the Thorns against Monterrey. I yet again was fairly certain that the Thorns were going to pull off the win. I will say I knew very little about the Rayadas, and may or may not have just assumed that the Thorns would succeed.

The first goal came quite quickly in the 5th minute from Marissa Everett. The rest of the game was truly back and forth and I was astounded by the performance of the Rayadas keeper, Alejandría Godínez. Finally, Monterrey broke through in the 68th minute, with the goal coming from Diana Garcia. Shockingly, this game also went to PKs. Godínez yet again came up big with 3 saves earning Rayadas a shootout win by a 3-2 margin.

Maybe I jinxed it because I wanted Chelsea to take on the Thorns, as the Saturday games ended up being Chelsea and the Thorns playing for third place and the Rayadas playing Lyon for the championship. That’s something I’ve always loved about sports— the unexpectedness of it all.

Returning Saturday I was excited for more soccer and just more time in Providence Park. It is one of my favorite stadiums as the energy is always great.

The first game had the largest crowd (I mean, the Thorns fans are some of the best out there) but blues also filled the stadium showing support for the British club.

For the first match, both teams were largely well matched, with both keepers pulling out big stops and both sides showing promise. The first and only goal of the match came from Guro Reiten in the 64th minute, securing the win for Chelsea.

I turned my sights to the final match. I was really intrigued by this game because while I knew the powerhouse that is Lyon, I also had seen the magic of Monterrey and was very excited for some good soccer.

I was not let down, the first goal (of two) came from Lindsay Horan, a PK called in the 39th minute, and was put away easily. Her second goal followed shortly after and was probably the best goal of the tournament (although Kerr’s chip was a beauty too). A nice half volley found its way to the back of the net in the 43rd minute. Lyon was not done there though and finished two more times in the second half with goals from Sara Däbritz in the 53rd and Signe Brunn in the 64th.

Overall, this was an amazing 12 hours of soccer (arriving at 5 p.m. and leaving at almost 11 p.m. both days) and I am so glad I got to experience it— not only as a Thorns fan, but as a fan of the growing women’s game.