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US players headed to Lyon next season: club chair

Some U.S. players are headed to Lyon next season, according to the club's chairman. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Some U.S. players are headed to Lyon next season, according to the club’s chairman. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Perhaps the National Women’s Soccer League won’t be United States women’s national team players’ only option moving forward amid a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the team’s collective bargaining agreement.

Olympique Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas tells French outlet Le Monde that Americans are headed to his French dynasty of a club next season.

“OL will have a very international team next season. Several U.S. players will join us,” he said.

[LAULETTA: What Portland’s signing of Amandine Henry means for NWSL]

Aulas did not specify which players would make the trek across the pond, but the timing makes sense with there being a three-year gap until the next major women’s tournament following the conclusion of the Olympics this August. U.S. players on full-time national team contracts are currently required to play in the NWSL.

Aulas also spoke of the looming departure of French midfielder Amandine Henry for Portland Thorns FC this summer. Le Monde reports that Henry signed a two-year contract — which likely means until the end of the 2017 season, although NWSL and the Thorns did not disclose terms.

France national team coach Philippe Bergeroo purportedly blessed Henry’s move to the U.S., where the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Silver ball winner hopes to learn some of the U.S. mentality.

Henry will likely depart with another French league title — which would be the club’s 10th straight — but the greater hope is to deliver a third UEFA Champions League title for Lyon, which demolished SK Slavia Praha of the Czech Republic, 9-1 on Wednesday in Leg 1 of the quarterfinals. Henry was part of the Lyon teams which won back-to-back Champions League titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

Henry’s time at Lyon may not be completely done. The NWSL season is short — running April through early October — and Aulas told Le Monde that Henry is welcome to return to the club during her inactive times.

“I told Amanda that she could return during this period,” he said. “We left in good relations. It will promote the Lyon football in Portland and in the United States.”

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