The reigning European champions Olympique Lyonnais Fémenin are back in Portland.
Who is OL Lyonnais?
Reigning European champions Olympique Lyonnais Fémenin are back in Portland looking to pick up its first piece of silverware of the 2022-23 season.
The French club last took the field on May 22 in Turin, Italy, where it defeated FC Barcelona Femení 3-1 in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. This summer, Lyon travels to the Pacific Northwest hoping to avenge the 1-0 defeat it suffered against the Portland Thorns FC in last year’s WICC championship game.
Several familiar faces return to Providence Park as Lyon kicks off the tournament with a star-studded mid-afternoon game against Chelsea FC Women on Aug. 17 (5:30 p.m. PT, ESPN+)
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Names to watch
Loaned out to Lyon ahead of the NWSL season, Lindsey Horan will play her first game in Portland since Nov. 14, 2021, on Wednesday night.
It wasn’t too long ago that Horan scored 13 goals and was named the NWSL’s 2018 MVP. One of the most notable Thorns of the past half-decade, Horan is still very much in her prime and capable of dictating any match from midfield.
Technically still a Thorn, Horan’s loan spell runs through next summer. This August, though, Horan will enter the field at Providence Park from the visitor’s locker room in Lyon colors. It will certainly be a strange sight to see.
Fans who arrive at Providence Park early to take in the first game of Wednesday night’s double-header will be met with a throwback of sorts when they see Horan and Amandine Henry share midfield.
Between 2016 and 2017, the duo performed the same roles is black and red as the Thorns controlled midfield in most of the games they played throughout those two seasons. Henry is also capable of her own individual moments of brilliance, as she displayed with a wonder-strike from outside the box for the opening goal in last May’s Champions League final.
If Portland and Lyon face off in the WICC championship game for a second-consecutive season, it would make for a challenging test for Sam Coffey, Christine Sinclair and Rocky Rodríguez, but a wildly entertaining duel for the neutral.
Even if you have never watched Lyon (or the French women’s national team, for that matter) play before, it’s difficult to miss Wendie Renard.
At 6’2, the French center back is a commanding presence along the back line and a magnet on set pieces. She has scored 85 goals in her 263 appearances for Lyon and a nuisance for opposing forwards.
On a team with loads of attacking talent, it’s the prowess of Renard that draws, perhaps, the most attention.
Lyon’s talented number nine, Ada Hegerberg joined the French club in 2014 and has since scored over 150 goals.
The Norwegian international, who won the 2018 Women’s Ballon d’Or and two-time BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year (2017, 2019), contributed a goal and assist in last year’s Women’s Champions League Final.
Among Lyon’s stable of talented stars, it’s Hegerberg who turns her team’s buildup into goals. She’ll be another fun player to watch throughout the mid-August tournament.
Did you know?
- Three members of the Thorns’ 2017 NWSL Championship team now play for Lyon (Horan, Henry, Ellie Carpenter).
- Olympique Lyonnais Fémenin has won eight of the last possible 12 UEFA Women’s Champions Leagues, including five-straight between 2015-2020.
- Lyon has won France’s top domestic league (Division 1 Fémenine) 15 times and all but once since 2007.
- The same group that owns Lyon also owns an NWSL team, but we don’t talk about them.