Enter Racing Louisville
It’s finally here. Over 500 days after the NWSL announced its expansion into Louisville, Racing Louisville FC will begin competitive play for the first time on Saturday 04/10/2021. The 2021 Challenge Cup will provide the opportunity for Coach Holly’s side to showcase their hard work and preparation over the past few months. Racing begins play at Lynn Family Stadium against the Orlando Pride. Poetic given that Louisville City FC’s existence stems from Orlando.
Not much is known about what kind of soccer Racing plays. Coach Holly and staff have intentionally held their cards close to their chest to maintain the element of surprise. All that has been shared from their preseason matches are a few clips that tell little about their style. What we know is that Coach Holly strives to have an adaptable and hard-working squad. Key players include the captain, goalkeeper Michelle Betos, the 2021 number one overall draft pick, Emily Fox, and former Chicago Red Stars players Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato. One could guess that these four have the best chance of starting. However, given how little has been publicly shared, who knows who makes the pitch for the start of the match. The questionable status of Julia Ashley, Emina Ekic, Cece Kizer, Lauren Milliet, and Taylor Otto make it even more of a puzzle. True injuries or a tactical ploy to make match prep for Orlando hard?
Orlando is less of a murky situation. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defender Ali Krieger, midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, and forward Marta are expected to start according to Scott Carnevale at themaneland.com. Despite Harris’ and Krieger’s playing credentials, the Pride has had “a porous defense.” On the offensive side of things, fortunately for Louisville, Alex Morgan will be out of the country with the USWNT. It would have been a rough start for the franchise to have faced off against both Morgan and the legendary Marta.
Head To Head
So how do the two squads stack up head-to-head? Of all the possible match-ups, Orlando is likely the best-case scenario for Racing. Historically, Orlando has not been great despite some of the names on their roster. During the 2020 Challenge Cup, the Pride went 0-2-2. According to FiveThirtyEight, Racing is slightly above last-place Orlando on the soccer power index (SPI). Head Coach Marc Skinner’s win rate of 14% in Orlando doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either. Louisville will certainly have their work cut out for them as the new kids on the block but there is a reason for optimism.
One thing is for sure and that is all eyes will be on Louisville. It’s not every day that you get to see a club play its first match. The ladies of Racing Louisville will suit up in their stunning home kits in their beautiful stadium and introduce Coach Holly’s carefully crafted play style. Orlando will look to play spoiler to Racing’s big day. It will be a fun match for both the hardcore fans and the neutrals alike. Be sure to tune into Paramount+ and catch this historic match!