Today, Racing Louisville announced that their academy would be joining the United Soccer League (USL) W League in 2022. This is the W League’s inaugural season and will kick off in May.
The W League is pre-professional, meaning college athletes and advanced youth players can participate. This league will serve as a development bridge between Racing’s academy and the full NWSL team. In the process, Racing will become the first NWSL team to complete their development pyramid by including a lower division team under the same club branding.
“We see the W league as a way to complete our path to pro model on the Racing side,” said James O’Connor, the club’s interim president. “We plan to get meaningful minutes for our top academy prospects and also use the league to see the best local and national collegiate talent. There will be a number of players who will play in this league on their way to the NWSL, so it provides an excellent development opportunity for our best young talent.”
Racing Louisville, which just completed its inaugural season in 2021, is the sister club to the USL Championship team Louisville City. Both teams launched their academies in 2020. On the men’s side, the USL Academy League has provided this middle tier, pre-professional opportunity for developing players. The W League will now serve this same role on the women’s side.
“We are excited to add the final piece of our pathway for Racing Louisville Academy,” said Mario Sanchez, director of the club academy. “The USL W league will provide our Racing Academy players the opportunity to further their development in a very competitive, pre-professional environment. We are looking forward to watching our academy members and other top collegiate stars work toward representing Racing in the NWSL.”
The W League currently boasts more than 30 teams set to participate in 2022. Their mission includes not only creating a competitive league that can serve as a pipeline between college and the pros but also advancing the women’s game by providing more opportunities for individuals to play and work in women’s soccer.
“We are delighted to welcome Racing Louisville FC to the USL W League for our inaugural season,” said Betsy Haugh, USL Director of Women’s Soccer Operations. “Racing continues to invest in the women’s game to provide more opportunities for players to showcase their talents and work to achieve their dreams in soccer. We’re thrilled to see all the club will accomplish this season and beyond, and look forward to working with them to achieve their player development goals.”
Currently, no staff have been announced for the USL W League side. Athletes interested in playing for Racing Louisville can fill out this form to be considered.