Start of a Journey: Previewing Racing Louisville’s 2024 Debut

“Happy with where we are”

Racing Louisville has undergone some big changes this offseason from a new coaching staff to new players to a new playing style. Now, on Saturday, they’re set to have their first regular season test against the Orlando Pride.

“We feel very happy with where we are,” head coach Bev Yanez said on Tuesday. “We also know it’s a process, and this is the start of the journey.”

Fans got a small glimpse of this new Racing at the Women’s Cup tournament in Cali, Colombia earlier this month. Although Racing beat América de Cali to make it to the finals, they ultimately fell 3-1 in a frustrating loss to fellow National Women’s Soccer League side NJ/NY Gotham. All in all, this experience showed exactly what Yanez said: It’s a journey and while the team shows promise, this is still just the beginning.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect from Racing and Orlando on Saturday and all the ways you can tune in to all the action.

Racing Louisville: New expectations

Despite many returning players, this is likely going to be a pretty different-looking Racing Louisville that comes out on Saturday. Part of that is because of injuries. Jaelin Howell and Kirsten Davis were rested the entire Women’s Cup so it seems unlikely they start even if they’re fit enough to get minutes. Ary Borges also rolled her ankle while playing for Brazil in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, so she seems a probable scratch as well.

Even if these three were playing, we’d likely see some significant movement — but that should be the new expectation. There’s been a lot of depth added to this team and that means there’s going to be a lot more rotation compared to past years. And that’s a good thing. Case in point: Racing acquired Taylor Flint in the offseason and it’s fairly unlikely you get Flint if you don’t plan on starting her. But with Howell and Borges likely out or limited who do you play next to her? In past years, maybe Elli Pikkujämsä but then we’d be biting our nails over who to play as the right centerback.

This season, even with Borges and Howell out, Racing can play Marisa DiGrande and Jordan Baggett who both had solid Women’s Cup showings. They can even move Pikkujämsä up and play Arin Wright as a centerback and barely miss a beat. This luxury of depth not only gives Racing a great deal more options on the pitch, it creates a more competitive environment which will also benefit the team as players have to work to earn minutes. It also means more rest for starters and, hopefully, fewer late upsets and more longevity as the season goes on.

For her part, Yanez said she’s proud of how has come together. On Friday, She reiterated that it’s a process, but she thinks the team has put themselves in an excellent position this preseason.

“We’re aware that that takes time, but I won’t stop saying how special I believe this group is. I really believe success is what you’re accomplishing on the pitch, but it’s also who you are off the pitch. And so for us, we have high hopes for the season.”
Image courtesy Racing Louisville FC

Orlando Pride: Orlando de Janeiro journey

This offseason, the Orlando Pride put together a pretty dangerous team by stockpiling Brazilian national team members like Adriana, Angelina, and Luana. This is in addition to Rafaelle and, of course, Marta who were already on the squad. Then, just before the season started, the Pride made a huge splash when they signed Zambian superstar Barbra Banda in a blockbuster deal that included a $700 million-plus buyout. All in all, Orlando is looking mighty deadly if everything comes together.

Racing may be lucky to get them in the first game of the season, however, because Banda isn’t with the team yet. Most of the Brazilians are also recovering from the Gold Cup which wrapped up last week. Rafaelle also, unfortunately, broke her foot, so she’ll be out for at least a few weeks, as well. This makes it a bit hard to guess what lineup Orlando might put out, but there’s no question it’ll still benefit Racing. Will the Brazilians be rested or put on limited minutes or will they be cleared to go out and hit the ground running? Hard to say.

Playing the “Right” Way

To come out on top, Racing will have to focus on playing football their way. If you listen to Yanez, there’s a lot of talk about wanting to not just win, but win the “right” way and to play football the “right” way. To midfielder and captain Howell, that means keeping possession and controlling the tempo. When Racing can do that, they’re unsurprisingly in great shape. journey

When they don’t, however, they have a propensity to rush and play individualistically instead of collectively. As a result, their attack loses all effectiveness. Players just make runs on their own and try to force passes instead of holding the ball and waiting for the rest of the team to get forward and convert back into an attacking formation. This results in constant turnovers and a lot more work with little benefit. Racing’s biggest test will be to not let their opponent dictate the course of the game if things stop going Racing’s way. That’s a level of maturity Racing never quite achieved — and still might struggle to achieve in this leg of the journey they’re still undergoing — but it’s the biggest thing they need to learn if they’re going to be contenders.

So many ways to watch (and listen)

Everything about the NWSL is bigger this year. The league is bigger with Bay FC and the Utah Royals joining as the newest expansion teams.

The broadcasts are bigger as well. No longer will everything be watchable on Paramount+. Instead, get ready for NWSL+ the NWSL-specific streaming service that will show over 70 games this season. Games will also be broadcast nationally on Amazon Prime, Ion, CBS, ABC, and the CBS Sports Network. This means a lot more work for fans to find games, but hopefully, the payoff is more potential fans stumbling onto them.

This Racing/Pride match will be streamed on NWSL+, but if you live locally in Louisville you can also take advantage of Racing’s renewed broadcast deal with WAVE3. Not only will it be streaming on, it’ll be on The 365 Wave 3.3 (with a digital antenna), Spectrum cable channel 193, and Dish Network’s 370.

You can also listen to play-by-play on the radio for the first time ever this year thanks to Racing’s partnership with The opener will be broadcast on SportsTalk 1080 AM, but future games may be broadcast on SportsTalk 790.

Match Details

Who:  Racing Louisville (0-0-0) hosts The Orlando Pride (0-0-0) journey

When: Saturday, March 16 at 4:00 PM ET

Where: Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, KY

Watch Live: NWSL+ / / The 365 – WAVE 3.3, Spectrum cable channel 193, Dish Network’s 370.

Play-by-Play Live: SportsTalk 1080 AM

Bekki Morgan

Covering Racing Louisville on the Beautiful Game Network and the central NWSL teams on Co-host of Butchertown Rundown: A Racing Louisville Podcast. Find me on Twitter @bekki_morgan and my pod @ButchertownR.