Meet your opponent: Chelsea FC Women

Here is all you need to know about “The Blues.”

Who are "The Blues"?

Just weeks ago, women’s soccer took England by storm as the England national team won the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 for the first time ever, on home soil.

In a few days, some of those same players who celebrated at Wembley will be in Portland to compete in the four-team Women’s International Champions Cup, wearing the jerseys of England’s most successful women’s club team, Chelsea FC Women.

Winners of the FA Women’s Super League three seasons in a row—and all but one title since 2017—Chelsea will compete in its first WICC, kicking off the quick tournament against European powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais Féminin on Aug. 17 (5:30 p.m. PT, ESPN+).

With notable names up and down the roster—you may have heard of Sam Kerr—Chelsea will be a formidable foe searching for a place in Aug. 20’s tournament final.

Names to watch

Sam Kerr

Not many fans of the women’s game will need a refresher on Sam Kerr.

Having spent five seasons in the NWSL, it’s a familiar name for those who follow the game in America and a straight-up terrifying one for any opponent. The Australian played for both Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars, taking home league MVP honors twice and the golden boot –– given to the league’s leading goal scorer –– three times during her stint in the United States. Since then, she has moved to West London where she has continued her rapid professional ascent.

Kerr picked up each of the last two FA WSL golden boot awards, scoring 21 and 20 goals in each of the last two seasons. Last season’s Professional Footballers’ Association Women’s Player of the Year, Kerr serves as the tip of Chelsea’s spear and is one of the most talented players coming to Portland.

Jessie Flemming

Another familiar name for those who follow women’s soccer in North America, Canadian international Jessie Flemming plays a key role in Chelsea Women’s midfield.

Choosing to go to England after her college days at UCLA, the Canadian gold medalist’s professional career in West London began slowly, but she has quickly picked up steam. The midfielder played in 21 of the Blues’ 22 games last season, scoring six goals and securing four assists.

While she may not have the pedigree as the other two names on this list, the 24-year-old is one to watch throughout the tournament.

Fran Kirby

A Chelsea FC Women’s club icon, Fran Kirby is worth the price of admission alone.

Signed for a British record fee in 2015, the England midfielder quickly proved worthy of the investment and –– at least for now –– is Chelsea FC Women’s all-time leading scorer with 54 goals for the London side.

Involved in everything Chelsea wants to do, the midfielder was named the PFA Women’s Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writer’s Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2018. With 16 goals and a league-leading 11 assists in 2020-21, Kirby made the shortlist for the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

Between Kirby, Flemming and Kerr, Chelsea have threats all over the field, and that’s before you dive into the dearth of talent throughout the roster.

Did you know?

  • Chelsea FC Women coach Emma Hayes coached the Chicago Red Stars between 2008-2010 when they played in the WPS. Before leaving for England, she served as Technical Director of the Western New York Flash, which won the WPS in 2011.
  • Hayes has been named FA WSL’s Manager of the Season for three-consecutive seasons. In 2021, she was named Best FIFA Women’s Coach.
  • Current Thorns FC player Crystal Dunn played 15 matches for Chelsea FC Women between 2017-2018, scoring three goals.
  • In 2020-21, Chelsea FC Women broke the English women’s record for most wins (18) and points (57) in a single season.
  • Chelsea secured the domestic quadruple in 2020-21, winning the league, Women’s FA Cup, FA Women’s League Cup and Women’s FA Community Shield.
  • Two of their last three titles have come down to the wire. In 2020-21, Chelsea’s 57 points bested Manchester City Women’s 55. Last year, Chelsea finished with 56 points, just one point better than Arsenal Women’s 55.