In the WICC, the Portland Thorns take on Rayadas de Monterrey. The WICC starts today, and the Portland Thorns will play Rayadas de Monterrey, a Mexican team, for the first time in their history.

We didn't expect August to come so quickly, and neither did the Women's International Champions Cup, which will be held at Providence Park for the second year in a row.

Last year, the Portland Thorns invited Barcelona, the Houston Dash, and Lyon. This year, the invited teams are a little different: Chelsea and Rayadas de Monterrey.

This time, Olympique Lyon is coming back to town with a Thorn player on loan. Lindsey Horan is back on the same team as Amandine Henry, who used to play for the Portland Thorns.

The goal is to give Lyon the ICC title, which Portland took away from them last year. Thorns fans were worried at the start of the season that the team's future wouldn't be as bright as it was the year before.

Mark Parsons was a long-time coach, and in his last game, he helped Portland win three of the four trophies it could have won in 2022, including the WICC.

But those worries were unfounded, as coach Rhian Wilkinson has shown in her first year in the NWSL that she is more than capable. Does Portland need the WICC? It ought to be.

The Thorns have already shown everyone that they can be a good team no matter who is playing. Even though the offence is built around Sophia Smith,

the rest of the team has shown that when they need to, they can step up and make a difference on the field and in the box score.

But this club isn't just about being good at sports. Even though Portland was kicked out of the Challenge Cup without a ceremony at the beginning of the year,

they were just getting warmed up. We now see how the coach was looking at the big picture. Even though the club always wants to win trophies, at that time of

year they had to make hard choices and put preparation ahead of results. Months later, we can see how those choices turned out.

The teams that played in the Challenge Cup final (Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage) are not doing very well, but Portland has done very well.

That doesn't mean that a team can't win the Cup and still be good during the season. In 2021, Portland did it, but the situation and team were a little different.

Even though some key players from last year are gone, Wilkinson has put together a team this year that has given Portland fans hope again.

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