NWSL vs International Opponents: A Brief History

Today the Houston Dash face UANL Tigres in an international friendly in Houston. It’s not the first time an NWSL club has hosted an international opponent, or even faced one. Here’s a brief overview of all games between NWSL clubs and foreign clubs. Video links provided if available.


The Seattle Reign (now OL Reign) kicked off the inaugural year of NWSL by playing three preseason matches in Japan. They were the first club of the NWSL era to play in Japan, although Sky Blue FC (now Gotham FC) played matches there in early 2012, right after the demise of WPS.


The Reign became the first NWSL team to host an international club friendly when they played Arsenal before the 2016 NWSL regular season.


The birth of the Women’s International Champions Cup ushered in a new era of NWSL clubs facing international competitions. The first WICC, played in Miami, saw the North Carolina Courage edge Lyon 1-0 in the final. The tournament also included Manchester City and PSG.


Orlando Pride hosted the Puerto Rico Sol and Washington Spirit played Bordeaux during the 2019 NWSL preseason.

And after the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the second edition of the ICC saw North Carolina Courage play host to Manchester City, Atletico Madrid and Lyon. The Courage and Lyon met in the final once again, but this time Lyon won the title.

That October, the Houston Dash became the first NWSL club to play in Mexico when they played Tigres in Nuevo Leon. The Mexican champions won 2-1.

Last month saw two international club tournaments hosted by NWSL clubs. The Portland Thorns hosted the 2021 edition of the Women’s ICC, defeating Lyon 1-0 at Providence Park in the final. The other participants were 2021 UWCL champions Barcelona and 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup winners Houston Dash.

2021 expansion club Racing Louisville created their own international tourney – The Women’s Cup, featuring Bayern Munich, PSG and the Chicago Red Stars. Racing won the inaugural trophy on penalties, edging Bayern Munich.

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