The soggy International Champions Cup weekend continued Sunday with the final matches of the event’s inaugural women’s tournament and the arrival of the Real Madrid and Manchester United men’s teams, who play Tuesday night in a game expected to draw 65,000 to 70,000 fans.
Heather O’Reilly, the 33-year-old former U.S. national team standout, scored the lone goal in the late-night women’s championship game, leading the underdog North Carolina Courage to a 1-0 win over five-time European champion Lyon of France.
The Courage, which plays in the National Women’s Soccer League, was missing six of its best players due to national team commitments – five from the U.S. national team and one from Brazil.
O’Reilly’s experience and composure under pressure showed as she knocked in a goal in the tenth minute off a cross from a sprinting Lynn Williams, who picked off a back pass from a Lyon defender. O’Reilly retired from the U.S. team in 2016 after 15 years on the roster. She played in three Olympics, two World Cups and was among the world leaders with 230 national team appearances.
She also won two national titles with the University of North Carolina. O’Reilly spent last season with Arsenal in England and signed with the Courage in late-June. Sunday’s goal was her first with the team.
“It was a good, gutsy American performance is the best way to describe it,” said Courage coach Paul Riley. “Lyon was very, very good. But we hung in there, dug in, cleared a lot of crosses and did what we had to do. Hats off to our players.. We had a lot of young players out there. It was a great education for the group.”
Lyon, winners of 12 consecutive French league titles, dominated possession and had several good chances to score, but two shots bounced off the post and Courage goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo made a big save late in the game on a shot by Amel Majri. She had six big saves for the night.
Riley said O’Reilly’s contribution off the field was as important as her goal.
“She came in and scored the goal, but more than that, she settled the girls down in the locker room before the game,” the coach said. “There were a lot of anxious faces when I walked into the locker room. A lot of talking about we’ve got to do this, watch that, and she settled everyone down. She’s been around the block a few times and having that experience was big for us tonight.”
Both Riley and Lyon coach Reynald Pedros said the ICC tournament was a good start to growing the women’s club game around the world and they hope the event continues next year with more teams and more promotion.
As for the men’s ICC, Heavy rain and lightning shortened Real Madrid’s morning training session at Florida International University, but they managed to get in a light workout and mingled with fans. Stars Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and 18-year-old Brazilian Vinicius Junior were among the players at the workout. The team was scheduled to practice again Sunday evening.
Manchester United arrived in Miami on the heels of a 4-1 loss to Liverpool Saturday in front of 101,254 fans at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The Red Devils practiced Sunday at Barry University, and have another training session scheduled for Monday.
The rain cleared just in time for the women’s third-place game between Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain at Hard Rock Stadium. Just like the Manchester City men, who rallied to beat Bayern Munich 3-2 a night before on the same field, City’s women fell behind 1-0 in the opening minute but scored two goals before halftime and held on for a 2-1 victory.
PSG took the lead on a goal from Melike Pekel off a cross from Diani. Pekel is a Turkish-German forward who worked as an optician before becoming a full-time professional soccer player. She is a member of the Turkish national team. Diani is a member of the French national team.
Man City’s 31-year-old midfielder Jill Scott tied it up in the 41st minute with a header off a corner from Caroline Weir. Scott is 5-11 and nicknamed “Crouchy” after 6-7 English player Peter Crouch.
The Sky Blues went ahead 2-1 just before halftime on another header, this one from Danish defender Mie Jans, who slipped past out of position PSG goalkeeper Christiane Endler and got her head on Weir’s free kick.
PSG almost equalized on a nicely-placed header by Canadian Ashley Lawrence, but Man City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley made an acrobatic save. Lawrence played at West Virginia University. Her father is Jamaican and her mother is from Nova Scotia.
The French team had another chance to tie in added time, but Bardsley darted out of the goal and made a tough save on a shot by Andrine Hegerberg of Norway, the older sister of Lyon star Ada Hegerberg.
The ICC women’s championship game, scheduled to kick off at 9 p.m., featured five-time European women’s champion Lyon of France, which has won the French women’s title 12 years in a row, against the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League. The Courage was missing six of its best players due to national team commitments – five from the U.S. national team and one from Brazil.
On the men’s side, Manchester City and Bayern Munich are headed back home to rejoin their World Cup players after Saturday night’s game, which showcased teenage players on both rosters.
Manchester City used a starting lineup that included 17-year-old Eric Garcia, 18-year-old Phil Foden, 18-year-old Luke Bolton, 20-year-old Douglas Luiz, and 19-year-old Lukas Nmecha, a German-born player who scored the tying goal to make it 2-2.
“I am satisfied with how our guys played, doesn’t matter the score. For these guys it was a huge experience, to see they can play against really big teams,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said of his inexperienced roster. “We came here with a lot, a lot, a lot of young players. We had just one or two professional players from the first team. For these guys to play against Liverpool and Bayern Munich, this will be good for them for the future.”
Guardiola said the U.S. tour was successful despite losing two of three games.
“You cannot imagine how I enjoyed these weeks with these guys,” he said. “The young guys have desire. They are starving to be football players. They’re hungry. When you say something to them, they open their eyes and listen to you because they know we’re here to help them...The guys we had were 17, 18, 19, so to do what they did, I’m so, so happy.”