Racing Louisville Season, New Signings Previewed by Bev Yanez and Ryan Dell

Ahead of Friday’s National Women’s Soccer League College Draft, Racing Louisville head coach Yanez and general manager Ryan Dell spoke to the media to discuss some recent changes in the club’s roster and preview the upcoming season. Although the pair couldn’t always give too much detail, they did offer some tantalizing hints about upcoming signings, discuss some earlier off-season roster changes, and provide some deeper insight into how Yanez will manage her team as a first-time head coach.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the biggest takeaways from Yanez and Dell’s event.

New Additions


Racing Louisville has been busy since Yanez last spoke to the press during her hiring announcement in November. In less positive news, Racing also lost forward Paige Monaghan to the Utah Royals in the expansion draft, goalkeeper Hillary Beall in a trade to the San Diego Wave, and Thembi Kgatlana to a transfer to Tigres in Liga MX for a club-record transfer fee. More positively, they’ve signed free agent midfielder Marisa Viggiano, traded for defender Ellie Jean, and signed Japanese midfielder and former University of Kentucky standout Yuuka Kurosaki.

In terms of these new additions, Dell said that they add much-needed depth that Racing was lacking in key areas last year. In particular, he pointed to how much depth was needed during the Challenge Cup final last season when they were plagued with injuries in a tight travel-packed week.

“We’re looking at about 26 on the roster and we feel it’s a really, really deep roster,” said Dell of the progress made so far. “When you look at what we’ve lost and what we brought in, we’re bringing back 80% of our minutes, 70% of our goals.”

According to both Dell and Yanez, fans can look forward to even more new signings arriving soon — probably as early as next week.

Although he didn’t identify any players outright, Dell did offer a few tantalizing hints. He said some of the players were national team players with “noticeable names” that the club was excited about. He also said that the players being added were “going to help score goals and that’s going to help us be propelled into the playoffs. So we feel really good about where we’re at. We know we lost players like Thembi and Paige, [who] are great individuals and we have had a great time with them here in Racing, what they’ve built here in Louisville, and we thank them for everything they did. But we’re excited for what we’re building in the future.”

Between the talk of scoring goals and the comparisons to Kgatlana and Monaghan, Racing fans should feel pretty confident they’re getting some forwards or at least some additional attacking players. With the recent re-signing of Parker Goins, Louisville currently has only three forwards on their roster so it’s safe to say this is an immediate need.

Dell also implied that there was another acquisition in the works as well — a trade that he hoped to have completed within the next 24 hours.


Players aren’t the only new arrivals joining the club in 2024. The technical and support staff will also be rounded out significantly in the coming season.

The first addition already announced is Mario Sanchez who formerly led the club academy and served as interim head coach for Racing in 2021. Now he joins Yanez’s team as assistant coach and technical director. While working together at Racing last year, Yanez said she quickly learned that Sanchez was someone who saw the game similarly to herself. The fact he has years of experience with the Racing Academy — which stands out as the only ENCL academy owned by an NWSL team — will also prove beneficial as the league expands its U18 entry rules in 2024 and beyond.

“He’s an incredible person,” said Yanez of her new assistant. “Incredibly knowledgeable, but he also knows the Academy through and through for his time spent here at this club and in this organization. And so for us, it’s continuing to build what that pathway could look like and how we can continue to develop those pieces as a club and what the future of that space looks like with these rule changes.” 

In addition to Sanchez, Dell said that a second assistant coach will be hired pending a completed background check. Racing will also be filling a player experience position that will “handle player needs off the field” according to Dell. He also indicated another unnamed staff position would be added as well, although he would not elaborate on what that position would be. All in all, that is three new staff positions added to Racing in 2024 which Dell said is an indication of the owners’ continued investment in the team.

College Draft Strategy

Louisville currently heads into Friday’s college draft with the sixth and 15th picks as their top choices. Dell said they’re currently flexible in either using or trading any of their picks. And there has certainly been a great deal of interest in the number six pick with him saying that Racing has either called or fielded calls from every team in the league in the last 24 hours alone. Whether or not they keep or trade any of their draft picks comes down to what makes the most sense in the long term and the short term for Racing.

“I want to make sure we protect the integrity of our group for the future,” explained Dell. “But if there’s a player that Bev thinks can win a game or two we’re we’re not afraid to go move up and make that selection.” 

In terms of scouting players and preparing for the draft itself, Yanez said that goalkeeper coach Sergio Gonzalez has taken the lead. As a former college coach, he has an eye for talent at this level and Yanez had nothing but praise for the work he’s done to prepare Racing for the draft.

The Bev Effect

When it comes to bringing in new players, whether draftees or other acquisitions, both Dell and Yanez stress the importance of evolving the roster into one that fits Yanez’s preferred style of play. Although Yanez was tight-lipped about her tactical and stylistic preferences, Dell remarked that it “is a little different than Kim. I’m excited about that. I think it’s gonna be really beneficial in this league.”

Although she wouldn’t elaborate on tactics, Yanez did say her framework and the principles she’ll be looking to coach within it are simple by design with adaptability as a core principle. Simplicity can give players the freedom to play to their own best abilities without being bogged down by a more complicated system or overloaded with information. Said Yanez, “The environment has to be highly competitive, but it has to be highly clear in the sense of what their roles and expectations are.”

This clarity of roles is something Racing has struggled with in the past. At the end of last season, both captain Jaelin Howell and vice captain Abby Erceg expressed frustration with the team’s tactics. Howell in particular stressed that players weren’t always sure of what was expected of them on the pitch which created confusion or unnecessary exertion. The fact Yanez recognized this as a core issue with the club last year bodes well for the team’s development in the coming season.

Although Yanez’s tenure with Racing has only been a few short months in the off-season, Dell had nothing for praise for what he’s seen from his new head coach so far. He praises her energy and work ethic and joked that she’s so inspiring “people will run through walls” for her after hearing her speak. Dell also said three players are already in market training with Yanez which is a first for the club and speaks to the team’s growth.

All in all, Dell said he truly believes that Racing is on the cusp of something special and that Yanez is a big part of that. “Honestly,” he asked rhetorically, “how do you not want to play for her?”

Other tidbits:

  • Preseason starts January 22 with two trips planned: Dell confirmed that players are due to return to market on January 22, which is six weeks before the start of the regular season. He confirmed that the team will have warm weather training in Arizona this year after previously training in Florida. He also broke the news that the team will be traveling abroad for an international tournament which is a first for an NWSL team. Where they’re going and when has yet to be revealed, however, so stay tuned for more.
  • Dell is not a fan of the expansion draft: I’d like to see it abolished, candidly.” Says the deadline for expansion draft trades was 9 AM Eastern time and they were on the phone with Utah almost a dozen times in that hour despite not being able get a deal done to gain protection. “I don’t think it’s fair to the players to go into the expansion draft that way, especially at the timing around the holidays.
  • Racing held a Pro Day: Although it was never officially announced, Racing held a Pro Day, similar to the NFL, to evaluate 20 potential draftees in person. Although other teams have invited select U18 and college players to practices and evaluations before, Dell thinks that Racing may have had the first-ever official Pro Day of this scale in the league.

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.