Simone Charley thanked the Portland Thorns organization and fans on Saturday, days after the young forward was traded to NWSL expansion club Angel City FC.

“Words cannot express the gratitude that I have in my heart for these past four years in Portland,” Charley wrote in an Instagram post published Saturday. “To the fans—Thank you for making my time at Providence Park magical.”

The Thorns traded the 26-year-old and Tyler Lussi in exchange for $100,000 in allocation money, immunity from Angel City in Thursday’s NWSL Expansion Draft and the club’s natural second-round draft pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft.

The move comes after a breakout season for Charley, who started 11 of the 19 matches she appeared in and scored five goals for Portland. She finished the season tied for second on the team’s goal-scoring list alongside Christine Sinclair (Sophia Smith led the way with seven goals). Charley was also second in goals per 90 minutes, behind only Lussi, who notched one goal in 160 minutes.

Charley proved herself to be lethal in the air, with four of her five goals coming off of headers.

The Portland striker also showcased her dribbling skills, causing issues for opponents’ backlines all season long.

Charley will join U.S. women’s national team star Christen Press on Angel City’s front line for the club’s debut season in 2022.

Angel City FC continues to grow, acquiring the rights to the Portland Thorns’ Simone Charley and Tyler Lussi, NJ/NY Gotham FC’s Didi Haračić and the North Carolina Courage’s Cari Roccaro.

All three teams will receive full roster protection in the upcoming expansion draft.

In return for Charley and Lussi, the Thorns will also receive $100,000 in allocation money and ACFC’s natural second-round draft pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft next week. Charley had a breakout 2021 season with the Thorns, scoring five goals in 19 games for the NWSL semifinalists.

In addition to expansion draft protection, Gotham FC – who also recently traded goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan to San Diego – will receive $50,000 in allocation money.

When the International Champions Cup introduced a women’s tournament in 2018, it was the first time women’s soccer had anything like the FIFA Club World Cup on the men’s side.

Before that, players could transfer between the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States and professional leagues in Europe, but the top club teams in the world didn’t have the chance to battle for superiority. And as major European soccer clubs invested more in their women’s teams and the NWSL’s own talent pool deepened, interest in a cross-league competition only grew.

Three years after the inaugural event, the ICC again will bring four of the best club teams in women’s soccer together for a two-round, friendly tournament beginning Wednesday in Portland. The teams that qualified — the Portland Thorns, Houston Dash, Olympique Lyonnais and FC Barcelona — each won championships in their respective leagues and competitions in 2020.

“As long as we don’t have a FIFA World Cup for clubs like they do for the men’s, it’s hard to say which teams would actually qualify from Europe and which teams would qualify from the States,” said Barcelona forward Caroline Graham Hansen, who will be playing in her first ICC.

“So in my head, this is a fantastic tournament for us to test ourselves against some really, really strong teams, maybe the best teams.”

The NWSL, now in its ninth season, was long considered the deepest women’s professional soccer league. It included nearly all of the players on the U.S. women’s national team, the winners of four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, as well as many star players from other country’s national teams.

That sentiment has begun to shift in recent years as European clubs have developed more homegrown talent and attracted some of the USWNT’s best players. Just this past year, four players who represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics competed in the Premier League for the 2020-21 season.

“It’s a different culture and football that everybody looks to in terms of how they play because the U.S. soccer women have won everything, the last World Cups,” Hansen said. “For us to go over there and be a part of this tournament is a fantastic way for us to keep growing our game in different parts of the world.”

Thorns forward Simone Charley feels similarly about the European teams coming to Portland this week.

Lyon has the most storied women’s program in Europe, having won seven UEFA Champions League titles and the most recent ICC in 2019. Barcelona, meanwhile, is on the rise after winning its first Champions League title in dominant fashion this year.

The Thorns will face one of them Saturday, either in the championship or third-place game, depending on their result against the Houston Dash on Wednesday. Charley is looking forward to the challenge of playing a team as tactically sound as Barcelona or Lyon.

Charley is having a breakout season with the Thorns. (Bryan Byerly / ISI Photos)

“One of the things we’ve been working on a lot is growing tactically and being able to read the game during the game instead of having to rely on halftime or after-game adjustments,” Charley said. “So not having played these teams before or not necessarily knowing what to expect, it’s going to challenge us to read the game and to pay attention tactically and technically.”

Charley wouldn’t go so far as to say the ICC will crown the best women’s club team in the world, but she did acknowledge the extra motivation the Thorns have going into the tournament.

“I do think it is a battle of the leagues, for sure,” she said. “There are two different playing styles that will be out there on the pitch, so I do think there’ll be a little chip on our shoulder, wanting to prove superiority of who’s better. In that way, I think we take it personally. We want to prove ourselves on that stage.”

The Thorns, winners of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup and currently in first place in the league standings, have two more months of the regular season to go before the playoffs. They have a handful of star players returning to their roster after competing in the Olympics and Charley is having a breakout season of her own, tied for third in the league with five goals. The experience the Thorns gain from the ICC will only help their NWSL title pursuit in the fall.

On the other side, Barcelona will have two weeks between the ICC and their season opener in the Primera División, which they’ve won two years in a row.

Like Charley, Hansen won’t call the exhibition tournament a crowning moment in women’s soccer, but that doesn’t take away from her intentions in Portland this week.

“When we go out there as a team, we always compete to win, and I know that the teams we are meeting are doing the same,” Hansen said. “So it’s going to be really good for the supporters to watch.”

The Barclays Center, home to the New York Liberty, will soon require proof of vaccination.

The Liberty announced on Friday that starting on Sept. 13, in accordance with New York City policy, all employees and guests of the Barclays Center will need to be fully vaccinated.

The team stipulated that all guests over the age of 12 will need to show proof of at least one vaccine dose to be permitted entry to Liberty home games.


Portland defeated Racing Louisville 2-0 Saturday night in Lynn Family Stadium to capture three points in the NWSL standings.

Rocky Rodriguez opened up scoring for the Thorns, converting a penalty to put the team up 1-0 in the 30th minute.

Portland struck again in the 52nd minute when Simone Charley redirected a floating ball from Emily Menges into the far post, doubling the Thorns’ lead.

Next up: Portland will head home to host Gotham FC on July 11. Racing Louisville will travel to Orlando to take on the Pride on Friday.

Portland defeated Kansas City 1-0 on Sunday to move atop the NWSL standings.

The Thorns started strong, applying consistent pressure to Kansas City’s back line. Portland had several quality chances on goal in the game’s opening minutes, the best opportunity coming in the 12th minute off a Christine Sinclair penalty kick. Abby Smith, however, denied Sinclair’s attempt from the line.

Smith came up clutch for her team in the first half, batting away several solid shots on goal, including a couple from Simone Charley.

After knocking on the door for much of the opening half, Charley finally broke through just before the break. The Thorns’ striker got on the end of a looping ball from Crystal Dunn, beating her defender and blowing past Smith to put away the game’s lone goal.

With neither side able to convert on opportunities in the second half, the score stayed at 1-0 until the final whistle.

The Thorns have now won three games in a row and will hope to make it four when they face the Courage on Saturday. Kansas City will look to snap their four-game losing streak when they face the Pride on Wednesday.

imone Charley is a forward for the Portland Thorns. In college, Charley played soccer and ran track and field for Vanderbilt University where she was named to the 2019 SEC Class of Women’s Legends.

Your first game was pushed back due to the fires in the Pacific Northwest. How was it dealing with that in practices and games?

Luckily, the air quality has improved a lot. It’s pretty much fine now, but for a while it was bad. We just bunkered down indoors — that’s pretty much all you could do. And yeah, our first game was originally pushed back about a week and a half. They delayed it two more times after that because they thought that the air quality would improve, but it didn’t. They just kept having to push it back further and further. It was pretty crazy.

Well, luckily you are safe and you guys were eventually able to play your first game of the Fall Series and beat Utah. How was it being back on the pitch? 

I’m pretty proud of how well our team played. We’ve been working hard these past few weeks and we have a lot of new faces this year, so we’ve had to develop a new team chemistry. I think that as more time has passed, we’ve had more time to play with each other and it’s all starting to come together. So, yeah, I was pretty excited with our performance and how it all played out.

What are your thoughts on the format of these games, since this is obviously very different from the Challenge Cup? 

I like the idea that now we get to play for something bigger than ourselves. We are playing for the Verizon Community Shield and Mimi’s Fresh Tees, which is a really cool organization that makes t-shirts in support of social justice causes. Being able to play for something so much bigger than ourselves and something that will impact our community is a really cool opportunity. I’m enjoying it so far.

Are there any safety concerns you or your team have had given traveling for games while we are still in a pandemic? And if so, how has the team and the league handled these concerns?

The whole series looks a little different than the bubble in Utah. We’re going to have to travel when we go to Seattle and Utah and we’ve had many team meetings about it. We’ve talked about how to do it safely and how to take as many precautions as we can. We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and we’ve figured out a plan that everyone is comfortable with. It was definitely not an easy discussion, though, because it’s for sure not the same as the bubble that we had in Utah.

How have you felt since returning from life in the bubble? Other players have said that the bubble was fairly draining for them. Was that a similar experience for you?

Yeah, I kind of felt removed from the real world and real life for the month and a half we were in the bubble. Returning home afterwards was very weird, especially because I was used to everything being so structured — where you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. In the bubble, everyone is masked up and being as strict as possible all the time. You come back to the actual world and it’s not as strict. When I first got back, I was a little paranoid, like, “Oh my gosh. What’s happening? I can touch things? This is crazy.” It was definitely an adjustment for me, but it was nice to come back.

Are you all still getting tested for COVID once a week?

We’re actually getting tested twice a week right now. I was joking with my friend the other day because I can’t even count how many times I’ve been tested, and it’s like you get it down to a science. It’s like, okay, I like this nostril better and remember to breathe out as soon as they start. But, yeah, because games were a lot more frequent in the bubble, we were getting tested more often because you’d have to be tested before and after every game. It was upwards of three or four times a week. Sometimes even more. And now it’s around twice a week, which is still a good amount.

What are your team’s goals for the remainder of the Fall Series?

Like I was saying earlier, it’s a pretty cool opportunity to play for something bigger than ourselves. I think that’s definitely something in the back of our minds. We want to have the opportunity to give back to our community by wearing the Community Shield. We also want to build for next year. We have a lot of new faces and a lot of young people on our team, so this is a great time to just get more experience under our belt and look forward to the next season.

You came out strong with a goal in your first game against Utah. Do you have any personal goals you are striving for in the last few games?

Just getting more experience and more games under my belt. I want to be consistent and help to continue the momentum that we had as a team throughout the rest of the fall series.

A big storyline before the Fall Series were all of the trades and loans that occurred with some big-name players. How do you think that has affected, if at all, your team or the league in general?

A lot of people decide to go play abroad, which is a pretty cool opportunity. With everything going on, I think that a lot of people thought that playing overseas would be best for them. I do think it’s affected teams who lost a lot of their players, but it also gives more people an opportunity to grow and it allows other players to step up and get more minutes on the field. I think now it’s a cool opportunity to play in the US because you’re going to see players who you wouldn’t normally get to see play.