Racing Playoff Hopes Dented After 1-0 Home Defeat to Houston
(Photo: Jordan Prather, NWSL LCC)
Racing Louisville suffered a blow to their playoff aspirations on Friday night, falling 1-0 at home to the Houston Dash. A 54th-minute header from Houston forward Diana Ordóñez proved the difference in a hotly contested affair at Lynn Family Stadium.
The loss leaves Racing on 24 points, still stuck in 7th place and two points shy of the final playoff spot. With only three games remaining, Louisville can hardly afford to drop any more points.
“We have to win every single game, especially for this playoff push. We need all the points we can,” said defender Abby Erceg. “Dropping points like that, that’s a massive loss for us.”
On a night with few clear-cut chances, Ordóñez’s goal was a dagger. She got on the end of a pinpoint Maria Sanchez cross and headed home past keeper Katie Lund. Lund was busy on the night, making four saves as Houston registered 19 shots. But Racing also created opportunities, including an early Savannah DeMelo effort ruled offside and a late chance for Carson Pickett blocked by a defender.
In the end, Louisville will rue not taking advantage of any of their six shots on target.
“Overall I’m disappointed, disappointed with the result and also I think we can do better,” said coach Kim Björkegren. His team now likely needs to win out for a playoff berth.
The match was a fairly even tactical battle, with both teams sitting deep and remaining compact. Space in midfield was hard to come by all night long. But Houston found the one moment of quality needed to grab three crucial points. Racing’s lack of ideas in the final third proved costly.
Still, Björkegren’s group is not giving up on its playoff dream just yet. Three games remain to try and turn the tide.
“We have three more games to go and I think it’s going to be very important for us to take one game at a time,” noted Thembi Kgatlana. “We’re so close – other teams are playing over the weekend, and we can’t depend on other teams.”
Racing will use the international break to reload for one final postseason push. Maximum points will be required the rest of the way. There is still ample talent up and down this roster. The team’s spirited Challenge Cup run shows they can compete with the league’s best. But they must quickly refocus after this damaging home defeat. Dropping points at Lynn Family Stadium is unacceptable during a playoff chase.
While the loss stings, the season is not yet over. Three winnable games await if Louisville can rediscover its best form. Expect a hungry, motivated group after the break. Racing’s greatest test lies ahead over this final fortnight. The lessons learned during a historic year will serve this rising team well both now and beyond 2022. But there is still business left to handle.
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