Who: Portland Thorns (2-2-0) hosts Racing Louisville (1-1-1)
When: Saturday, June 5 at 10:30 PM ET
Where: Providence Park, Portland, OR / Live on Twitch
Last week’s 0-5 loss to the North Carolina Courage was a stark reminder of Racing Louisville’s inexperience. But for Coach Christy Holly, it was one of the best things that could’ve happened to the young team.
“This is the best lesson we could get,” said Holly after a team practice on Wednesday. “There’s going to be some miserable nights. But it’s not as miserable when we’re sitting and picking away at the learning we want to apply to the team.”
Speaking of miserable nights, the team certainly had one on Thursday. After canceling practice due to a heavy thunderstorm, Racing headed to the airport for their flight to Portland. They were hoping to have some extra time to recover from the long flight and acclimate to the time change. Unfortunately, they would have no such luck.
The team was stranded at the airport for more than three hours, only getting into the air after 10 PM. And by Friday morning, they’d only made it as far as Houston.
Here’s what Coach Holly had to say about the ordeal:
— Racing Louisville FC (@RacingLouFC) June 4, 2021
While Racing is due to make it to Portland sometime Friday afternoon, it’s impossible to believe this won’t impact them in some way. Still, the team remains in good humor and will simply have to roll with the punches as they come.
Know Your Foe
The Portland Thorns are unquestionably one of the best clubs in the world. They have everything: the players, the fans, the stadium, and the wins to back up their reputation.
Founded in 2012, the Thorns won the league championship in 2013, the NWSL’s inaugural year. They have made it to at least the semi-finals every year since, except for 2015. They earned the league’s shield, for the best regular-season record, in 2016 and followed it up with another championship in 2017. Earlier this year, they also won the preseason Challenge Cup tournament.
The Thorn’s roster reads like a who’s who of top women’s soccer players. U.S. National team members Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, AD Franch and Becky Sauerbrunn all feature in their starting lineup. Young talent like Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith will help guarantee that the Thorns stay strong for years to come.
And to top it all off, Portland has the largest, most-dedicated fanbase, leading the league in attendance by miles. In 2019, they averaged a record 20,098 fans. Comparatively, the team with the second-highest average attendance, the Utah Royals averaged 10,774 fans – and they don’t even exist anymore.
The Thorns have had a bit of a rough start to their regular season with two losses to match their two wins. They’ll be out to prove a point, much like the Courage were last week, and Racing will have to play some of their best football to stay in the game.
Keep Calm and Carry On
This game was always going to be tough for Racing. The powerful opponent, the long-distance travel, the time difference, the late kickoff time, and the intense hometown crowd made winning this match a tall task to begin with. Add in the lack of sleep, the even longer travel time, and now potentially two missed practices (one at home and one in Portland) and there’s little doubt that the odds are stacked heavily against Louisville.
However, if there’s one thing Louisville has displayed in their short history, it’s that they’re a team that has a lot of fight. They might not get the win, but if the team shows improvement in how they manage themselves last week, then that’s a win in itself. The backline will need to keep composure under pressure and players will need to stay on the marks. Even if things go poorly, they can’t let themselves fall apart as they did in the tail end of the Courage game.
And, as discussed many times before, they need to take more shots. Opponents are taking over twenty shots against Racing per game recently. Racing needs to counter that with some shots of their own and put a little more pressure on their opponents to try and balance things out a bit. Even if they miss, they need to start firing or else their offense will never start clicking.
This is no easy task for a team that’s still building chemistry and has only played seven total matches together. And it’s even harder for a team that is under-practiced and mentally and physically exhausted. But, it’s the task that’s ahead of them and experiences like this is how they’ll learn and grow.
In Case You Missed It…
- Congratulations to Emily Fox for being named to the NWSL Team of the Month! The number one draft pick was the only rookie named to the list, that includes luminaries like Alex Morgan, Sydney LeRoux, and Debinha. Quite impressive for a player with only seven professional games under her belt.
Well, that's a decent start. 👏
— Racing Louisville FC (@RacingLouFC) June 3, 2021
- If you’re not watching Yuki Nagasato’s team vlogs on YouTube, you’re missing out! Make sure to subscribe so you can keep up with all the team shenanigans. Yuki also sells her own stickers, art, and t-shirts – some with Racing Louisville themes! Check them out here.
- Jorian Baucom was a guest on the podcast Diaspora United. Take a listen and subscribe to help support NWSL content creators! (Apple) (Spotify)