NWSL: North Carolina Courage to host the International Champions Cup

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International Champions Cup
NEW YORK, NY — MARCH 29: Commentator Melissa Ortiz, Brendan Doyle, SVP Elite Programming and Youth Development, North Carolina Courage player Heather O'Reilly and North Carolina Courage President and General Manager Curt Johnson speak during the 'Leveling The Playing Field' panel during day three of the International Champions Cup launch event at 107 Grand on March 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/International Champions Cup/Getty Images)

Cary, North Carolina (March 29, 2019) — Last year, the North Carolina Courage hoisted not one, but two trophies. In addition to winning the NWSL Championship, North Carolina competed — and claimed victory — in the first-ever Women’s International Champions Cup.

This year, North Carolina will compete in the tournament again. Last year, the Courage competed on American soil, as the tournament was held down in Miami, Florida. However, this year, North Carolina has a big advantage.

NWSL: North Carolina Courage to host the International Champions Cup

The International Champions Cup will be held in Cary, North Carolina. WakeMed Soccer Park will host four of the world’s best women’s soccer clubs. The stadium is home to the Courage and North Carolina FC of the USL Championship.

Other clubs that will take part in the tournament include Olympique Lyonnais from France, Manchester City from England and Club Atlético de Madrid from Spain. Last year, Paris Saint Germain competed, but this year the tournament has expanded to the Spanish club. In 2020, the ICC is hoping to expand to include eight clubs.

“This tournament is a key a component of our core mission; to provide more opportunities for people of all backgrounds to participate in soccer,” Relevent Sports Group CEO Daniel Sillman said. “The women’s game is every bit as compelling as the men’s game, and it is a privilege to host a world-class tournament featuring these special athletes.”

For the first time in Women’s ICC history, the winning club will earn a monetary prize.

“The inaugural Women’s ICC exceeded everyone’s expectations, with a thrilling 1-0 victory by the North Carolina Courage,” RSG Executive Chairman and Co-founder Charlie Stillitano said. “As we get closer to kicking off this year’s tournament, I can guarantee there will be a buzz about whether North Carolina will repeat, or if one of the European clubs will capture the trophy.”

Can the Courage repeat as Champions again?

North Carolina will essentially bring back the same roster as last year.

In last year’s victory, North Carolina routed Paris Saint Germain, 2-1, to reach the final. In the Championship match, North Carolina had one lone goal scored by then-rookie Darian Jenkins. The second-year player will not be competing in the tournament, as she joined the Reign FC this off-season.

Curt Johnson, North Carolina Courage president and general manager, said it’s an honor for the Courage to host the ICC.

“WakeMed Soccer Park has a proven track record when hosting international events including last year’s Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament,” Johnson said. “This will be a great event with dozens of international stars returning from the World Cup. It will be a moment in time when all eyes of women’s soccer will be upon us, and the Courage will be able to measure up against some of the best women’s soccer clubs in the world.”

Meanwhile, Heather O’Reilly, a current midfielder for the Courage, called the ICC a “premier display” of international club football.

“Last year was the first women’s edition and it was tremendous to be able to take part in it,” O’Reilly said. “It shows growth of the women’s game and gives an opportunity for club football to be supported the way that national teams are. Visibility is key, and the ICC is fantastic for player and club visibility. It is also just straight up entertaining — seeing the best of Europe and the best of the US face off.”

In addition to the tournament being in Cary, North Carolina, the matches will air on ESPN. Tickets are slated to go on sale in the next couple of months.

 

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