U.S. national team midfielder Morgan Brian is leaving the National Women's Soccer League after three seasons to play for Olympique Lyonnais, which has won 11 consecutive French league titles and the past two UEFA Champions League trophies.
The Georgia native, who starred at the University of Virginia, signed a 2 1/2-year contract to play in Lyon, the city serving as the hub for the 2019 Women's World Cup. Brian, who turns 25 in February, played more than two seasons for the Houston Dash before being traded to the Chicago Red Stars late last summer. Chicago will retain her league rights.
Injuries limited her to six national team appearances and two starts in 2017. She has 69 caps and six goals.
U.S. teammate Alex Morgan played for Olympique Lyonnais in early 2017 before returning stateside. The most prominent American on a full-time contract overseas is Crystal Dunn (Chelsea); the Washington Spirit owns her NWSL rights. Carli Lloyd was a short-term member of Manchester City last winter and spring before rejoining Houston.
Also moving to OL on Monday: Portland forward Amandine Henry, a French national team star who served with the Lyon club for 10 seasons before moving to the NWSL and winning a title with the Thorns last fall.
At the winter break, OL is 12-0-0 in Feminine Division I with a 59-2 goal differential and sits five points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. Because OL, PSG and Montpellier dominate the league – their combined goal differential is plus-114 – only four of the 12 clubs have positive GDs.
OL will resume play Sunday at second-tier Racing Besancon in early-round cup competition. The Champions League campaign shifts into the quarterfinals in March with two legs against Barcelona.