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England’s Lionesses Prepare To Roar Stateside
Alex Morgan, Kelly O'Hara, and Allie Long kissing the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup trophy following their win over the Netherlands in the final.

Football in the US is a growing sport, with the number of individuals playing the game on the rise – not just recently, but for a number of years now. What sets the country apart from others in the FIFA sphere is the acceptance of the women's game - fueled in part by the unrivaled success of the USWNT.

However, in the country that heralds itself as the 'home of football' the validity of the female game is only just bubbling to the surface.

Powered by a hugely successful FIFA Women's World Cup in the summer of 2019, England's 'Lionesses' found themselves pulling in viewing figures of 11.7 million at home - numbers that would have been regarded as impossible just four years earlier.

England's biggest football clubs all now have a female team - Manchester United the last to fall in line during 2018.

The power of the Women's World Cup to command a total viewing figure of 28.1 million – 47% of the total population of the United Kingdom – has thrust some of Lionesses' biggest stars into the limelight.

The global reach of the game means players English players routinely ply their trade overseas, at some of football's most well known clubs – while others have flourished on home soil.

Lucy Bronze in stride for England at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup against Sweden.

England's duo of Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton MBE recently arrived in America to take part in the Women's ICC, and they will represent two of the best-know female sides on the planet.

Bronze is a crucial member of the Olympique Lyonnais team that won back-to-back UEFA Champions League trophies, the second secured in May of this year.

That isn't her only medal haul - Bronze by name but certainly not by nature. As well as the two European medals in her cabinet, the full-back's collection includes a hat-trick of Women's Super League medals, two French league championships, a Coupe de France Féminine.

At 27-years-old she also has a plethora of individual accolades, ranging from the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) Women's Players' Player of the Year – twice – to the FA Women's Footballer of the Year.

Part of the star-studded French side, she shares the locker room with the best female footballer on the planet - Ballon d'Or Féminin holder Ada Hegerberg, the team from Lyon are simply superb and Bronze is very much a reason for that.

However, before the World Cup started, England boss Phil Neville said of his national team player:

“Lucy Bronze is the best player in the world. Write that down, print that, because she is”

No stranger to America, the ex-Liverpool and Manchester City player spent a season at the University of North Carolina, returning to England with an NCAA national championship.

It seems she is glad to be back on American soil, taking to Twitter she commented:

“Landed state side - Let’s go”

Phil Neville and his team on the field following their loss to Sweden in the third-place match at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Not just teammates for England, Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton played together at Manchester City, and that is where Houghton remains now.

Having won everything there possibly is in the English game with Leeds United, Arsenal and Manchester City, the 31-year-old is a veteran of two FIFA World Cup tournaments - as the England captain - and a UEFA Women's Championships.

Receiving an MBE (Member of the British Empire) award in the Queen’s New Year Honors list of 2016, for her achievements in football the year before, she spoke to her website of her immense pride:

“Receiving an MBE is a huge honor. To be able to say that I have one; it’s something I never even dreamed would become a reality. I am so lucky and humbled to be able to receive such a prestigious award. Having those three letters after my name is a strange feeling but a big moment not only for me but also for my family”

The versatile defender also can lay claim to the title of top scorer for Team GB, her appearance at the London 2012 Olympic Games saw her register three goals, then as a left-back.

Her sporting success has been further captured in Raleigh, NC, where this August's tournament takes place. A mural reaching a height of 25ft depicts the Manchester City captain, along with her three fellow captains from the teams competing in the 2019 WICC.

Steph Houghton in thought following England's loss to Sweden at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Speaking in an interview with English magazine Marie Claire, the MBE recipient knows her elevated status should be used to influence those who not only watch her - but wish to emulate her:

“I think women should inspire. It is our duty to inspire young girls to play a sport, whether it’s just for enjoyment and keeping fit, or to actually go on and try and make a career out of it” she said.

Both players get their ICC tournaments underway in the next few days. First up is Bronze's Olympique Lyonnais, who take on Spanish side Atlético de Madrid on August 15, while 26 hours later Houghton and her Manchester City teammates face the North Carolina Courage.

All four games take place at the Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park, with the final scheduled for August 18 at 7:30pm ET.

 
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