Who: Racing Louisville (2-2-2) hosts the North Carolina Courage (0-3-1)
When: Saturday, June 4, at 8 PM ET
Where: Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, KY / Live on Paramount+
The Doctor Is In
Racing Louisville will add some extra firepower on Saturday when they take on the North Carolina Courage. Nadia Nadim has been removed from the injury report and is available for selection.
“It’s been amazing,” said Nadim of her return. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. It hasn’t been an easy time, but I’m really grateful to be here.”
Last September, she suffered a season-ending knee injury during a match against the Orlando Pride. She’s been back to rehab with the team since preseason and thanked Racing Louisville technical staff including performance coach Julie Twaddle and trainers Tara Condon and Megan Fernandez for getting her back into shape.
“This is not the end of my goal,” said Nadim of her progress. “This is a big step that I still need to build on and get to where I want to be and, hopefully, I can help the team get some wins.”
Although she’s one of the most accomplished players on the roster on and off the pitch, Nadim said she needs to work herself back into a starting role.
“I have to build to be fully 100% and that’s gradually during games with a start as a sub. And then, at a certain point, I have to prove myself [and show] that I’m a starter. Nothing is being given and I don’t want it to be granted that I’m a starter. I have to prove myself.”
Coach Kim Björkegren agreed and said that Nadim might need a month or more to get fully integrated into the team.
“We know she’s an amazing football player, but we also need to give her a little bit of time.”
Know Your Foe: The North Carolina Courage
The North Carolina Courage may have won the 2022 Challenge Cup, but they’ve struggled in the regular season. Now that Kansas City beat Louisville on Monday, the Courage is the only team still without a win. In fact, they only earned their first point in four games last week against Houston.
This doesn’t mean the Courage is a bad team, however. They didn’t win the Challenge Cup on chance, although it did seem to exhaust them. Since then, they’ve had a string of bad luck including a Covid outbreak that affected almost half their team and coaching staff. Despite these setbacks, they have only been shut out of one match all season. They’ve scored at least one goal in every game they’ve played. Although they’re missing the attacking presence of Jess McDonald and Lynn Williams, they stil have managed to break down teams’ defenses and score.
The Courage will certainly be hungry for their first win, too, so they’ll likely come out of the gate hard. This is similar to what Racing faced last week with Kansas City. The Current wanted a win, pressed hard and earned an early penalty, and converted it. Then they held Racing off long enough to turn that single penalty into a win. Coach Kim Björkegren scoffed at the idea that this game or even last week’s game against Kansas City is different from any other game in the season.
“Every game is super important. All the teams try and win every single game, so I don’t think this is something that is unique.”
As for last week’s match against Kansas City, Björkegren said, “I think sometimes it’s just that kind of day. We’ve played really good for a while. I think we’ve played seven or eight games that were really good. And I think this was a step back, but that’s normal. That’s life. You can’t just have good games and good games and good games.
“Sometimes you have to move a step back to move two steps forwards.”