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Racing Louisville Busy Off-Season Bolstering Roster Ahead of 2024 Season

Racing Louisville has been active this offseason reshaping its roster under new head coach Bev Yanez as the club builds toward the 2024 NWSL campaign.

In a pair of key moves, Racing acquired defender Ellie Jean from expansion club Bay FC and transferred forward Thembi Kgatlana to Mexican club Tigres. 

Jean comes to Louisville after two seasons with NJ/NY Gotham FC, where she was part of the club’s first-ever NWSL championship last month. The 26-year-old provides versatility across the back line and has 32 games of NWSL experience.  

“We could not be more excited to add Ellie to our club,” said Racing GM Ryan Dell. “Her experience, professionalism and work ethic will elevate our back line for years to come.”

Kgatlana departs Racing after just one season. The club received a record-setting transfer fee from Tigres for the South African star, who scored twice in 16 appearances after returning from a torn Achilles.

“While my time at Racing Louisville was short-lived, I am truly thankful to the fans and the people of Louisville for their support,” Kgatlana said.

In addition to the trades, Racing has signed two free agents to address its midfield. 

Marisa Viggiano comes to Louisville after five years with the Houston Dash. The 26-year-old is known for her passing, vision and ability to break up play. 

“It’s clear that Louisville is a club with tremendous growth on and off the field,” Viggiano said. 

Racing also added former University of Kentucky standout Yuuka Kurosaki. The Japanese midfielder won three straight league titles in Finland before joining Racing on a two-year deal. 

“After talking to the coaches, I really liked the positive and supportive culture that the team has on and off the pitch,” Kurosaki said.

With the additions of Viggiano and Kurosaki, Racing now boasts one of the most talented midfield groups in the NWSL, blending promising prospects with international veterans. 

The roster moves come on the heels of Racing’s first season under Yanez, when the club narrowly missed the playoffs but reached the NWSL Challenge Cup final. Racing will look to build on that success when the 2024 NWSL season kicks off in March.

In a trade with the San Diego Wave announced Monday, Racing sent goalkeeper Hillary Beall to Southern California in exchange for a 2025 NWSL Draft pick. Beall, a Laguna Beach native, heads closer to home after two seasons as a backup in Louisville. 

“We thank Hillary for her time in Louisville and wish her the best as she moves closer to home,” said Racing GM Ryan Dell.

The club retained some familiar faces up front, re-signing forward Parker Goins to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Goins has scored three goals over the past two seasons in Louisville.  

“Each year we’re continuing to grow in the right direction, and I know this year won’t be any different,” Goins said.

On Wednesday, Racing announced a new three-year contract for forward Kirsten Wright, formerly known as Davis. Wright scored five goals last season, including dramatic equalizers against Angel City and Orlando. 

“I’m beyond excited to continue my career here in Louisville,” Wright said. “This city and club have become my home.”

Racing made a splash Friday by acquiring defender Arin Wright in a trade with the Chicago Red Stars. The Kentucky native and former Wildcats star returns home after eight standout seasons in Chicago.  

“Having the opportunity to come home to the beautiful Bluegrass State and give back to the community that developed me and encouraged me to chase my dreams of being a professional athlete is something that all athletes dream of,” Wright said.

Racing sent the No. 15 pick in the draft and $125,000 in allocation money to Chicago for the 31-year-old Wright. She was a two-time Best XI selection for the Red Stars and their all-time leader in games started.

“This was a deal we really wanted to get over the line because it brings Arin and her family home,” said Dell. 

The addition of Wright, a versatile defender, bolsters an already stout back line for Racing as the club looks to build on its first playoff push this past season under Yanez.

With a mix of familiar faces returning and talent acquired via trades, Racing appears poised to make noise when the 2024 NWSL campaign kicks off in March.

Racing Louisville has been the busiest team in the NWSL this offseason, completely reshaping its roster under new head coach Bev Yanez. 

The club made another splash this week, acquiring U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Taylor Flint from the San Diego Wave in exchange for $150,000 in allocation money.

Flint, 25, has 45 appearances over two seasons in San Diego, where she was the No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft. She also has 12 caps and two goals with the USWNT. 

“Taylor is an incredible young midfielder with both NWSL and U.S. Women’s National Team experience,” said Racing GM Ryan Dell.

Racing has been active internationally as well, signing South African star Linda Motlhalo from Scottish club Glasgow City and Colombia forward Elexa Bahr from América de Cali in Colombia’s top league.

The club also acquired teenage phenom Milly Clegg, who at 18 is the youngest player ever signed by Racing Louisville. The New Zealand international played in the last three FIFA U-17, U-20 and Women’s World Cups.

In addition to the attacking reinforcements, Racing bolstered its back line by acquiring defender Arin Wright in a trade with the Chicago Red Stars. The Kentucky native returns home after eight standout seasons in Chicago.

Racing has now added eleven new players during a transformative offseason. The club returns the majority of its minutes from last season while blending in an influx of international talent and youth.

“We have been purposeful this offseason in adding dynamic players at every position who fit our style and locker room culture,” said Dell. 

After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2023 under Björkegren, Racing appears poised to contend when the 2024 campaign kicks off in March.

“We cannot wait to get our full group together in preseason to start gelling and preparing for the upcoming season,” Yanez said. “I fully believe this team has the talent and mentality to achieve great things this year and beyond.”

Author

  • Jimmie Martin

    Jimmie Martin is a charismatic soccer podcast host from Kentucky who passionately advocates for Promotion and Relegation in US Soccer. With infectious enthusiasm and a lighthearted sense of humor, he engages fellow enthusiasts on the Bluegrass Soccer Cast. Jimmie's goal is to promote the growth of soccer in the US while entertaining and educating his audience.

Racing Louisville Busy Off-Season Bolstering Roster Ahead of 2024 Season

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