Racing Louisville FC has endured the struggles that any expansion team faces in any league. Despite this, things look bright for the NWSL’s newest squad. Between the major acquisitions of Gemma Bonner, Ebony Salmon, and Nadia Nadim, as well as the opening of a world-class training facility, the club is full steam ahead in putting together the pieces to become one of the world’s top clubs. This transformation does not happen overnight. The team has been working hard and taking things one game at a time. With about a third of the season complete, Racing is 3-4-2 and currently occupies the eighth spot in the table of ten. Below is the data (courtesy of American Soccer Analysis) on the team’s performance to date on their quest for success. How has Racing Louisville stacked up on shots, goals, and points? We will examine their performance not only compared to their peers in the 2021 season but to NWSL clubs dating back to 2016.
Shots and Goals For
Racing’s early season attack has been an area of improvement. Averaging just 7.92 shots per game and 0.85 goals, they have been the worst shooting team but, thankfully, not the worst at scoring. Both KC and Chicago have only managed 0.64 and 0.57 goals per game. Cece Kizer and Savannah McCaskill have proven to be promising attacking presences. Service has been an issue for the attack. One could point to the low possession statistics or the common fan complaint of a lack of a true midfield. Between the continued growth of Kizer and McCaskill, as well as the addition of Salmon and Nadim, this is an area in which productivity will increase. Looking at LOU’s averages compared to all NWSL teams is not a pretty picture for shots, only beating out Orlando in 2020, who one could argue was impacted by a small sample size because of only play a limited number of games. They are outpacing a handful of other teams on goal averages, but not many.
Louisville’s goal total through the season has kept pace with their expected goal (xG) count, with 11 balls having hit the back of the next compared to the 11.28 expected. As noted above, expect for there to be notable increases in these numbers as the new players enter the fold and the team continues to further grow and gel together.
Shots and Goals Against
While there is work to be done on offense, there is arguably more to be done with defense. Racing Louisville has allowed an average of 18.46 shots against and 1.38 goals per game against. For those not too familiar with soccer stats, those are high. Particularly the shots against. If it were not for the heroics of Michelle Betos, the goal tally could be a much uglier picture. The introduction of Bonner to the starting eleven has helped to ease some of these issues. Compared to teams of the past, Racing is only passed in shots against by the 2020 Orlando team. Goals against, however, there are on the upper end of the middle of the pack. Can be too upset being below the trendline on this one. Considering the expected goals against (xGA, below), the fans of Lavender should count their blessing it’s not a messier situation. The divergence between xGA and the actual goals against isn’t likely to maintain, so hopefully they can flatten that curve (where have I heard that before?).
Shots are good, goals are great, but points are what really matter at the end of the day. Rack up enough of those bad boys and you can earn yourself a piece of hardware! Racing is averaging one point per match and over-performing compared to their expected points (xPts). This team is full of fight and has scraped out enough points to make them competitive for an expansion side, surpassing several clubs of the past (on a points per game basis). While the scoreline and win/loss record does not always reflect this, Racing has been in most matches and pushed their opponents to their max. If you’re going to lose, at least make the opposition work for it, and that is exactly what they have done.
It’s not been all sunshine and rainbows. There have been tough losses and unfortunate injury setbacks. Eight in the league isn’t exactly where a team wants to be, but there is still plenty of time to climb the table. While it’s unrealistic to expect Racing Louisville to win it all, sneaking into the playoffs is not a farfetched notion. FiveThirtyEight is only giving them a 35% chance of doing so, but the arrival of Nadim and the continued integration of Salmon and Bonner should help to boost those odds.
The Racing story has been a fun one to follow. The personable Coach Christy Holly, the fun group of players, and the trailblazing accommodations have made following the team enjoyable from a fan’s perspective. If you’re not already on the Louisville bandwagon, it’s not too late! Hop on before we are great! Bekki Morgan has done a fantastic job covering the team and will make following Racing all the more enjoyable. And if you are able, be sure to check out the incredible Lynn Family Stadium. It’s an atmosphere like none other. Vamos Lavanda!