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World Cup Stars Bolster Racing Ahead of Crucial Angel City Clash

Racing Louisville FC welcomes back its contingent of 2023 Women’s World Cup standouts just in time for a pivotal home match against Angel City on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM EST at Lynn Family Stadium.

The return of Racing’s global stars comes as the team makes a final playoff push in the NWSL campaign. Louisville currently sits 7th, just two points shy of the 6th and final playoff spot with 7 games remaining. 

Saturday’s contest is a rematch of the sides’ early season 2-2 draw in Los Angeles. Racing led that match 2-0 at halftime before Angel City’s comeback earned a share of the points. 

This time around, Louisville is aiming to use its home-field advantage to full effect. The club anticipates a record crowd at Lynn Family Stadium to cheer on the home side.

“We are very excited to welcome Racing’s World Cup players back home to Louisville,” said General Manager Ryan Dell. “They will play an integral part for us as we push for a spot in the NWSL playoffs.”

Midfielder Savannah DeMelo (USA) returned to training on Monday, while forward Uchenna Kanu (Nigeria) and midfielder Wang Shuang (China) came back Tuesday. Brazilian midfielder Ary Borges joined Thursday.

DeMelo and Kanu found the back of the net at the World Cup, with Borges netting a hat trick in Brazil’s opening match. In all, Racing players accounted for 8 goals scored in the tournament.

The team will still be without forward Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa) and midfielder Alex Chidiac (Australia) for Saturday’s contest as they wrap up World Cup duties. But the return of the other global stars provides a timely boost.

Racing has defended stoutly at home this campaign, allowing the second-fewest goals in NWSL play. The back line will aim to slow red-hot Angel City forward Christen Press, who sits third in the golden boot race with 8 goals.

In attack, Louisville will look to break down an Angel City defense anchored by the center-back tandem of Ali Riley and Megan Reid. Riley helped New Zealand reach the World Cup playoffs, while Reid played every minute for Canada. 

Interim coach Becki Tweed has Angel City playing improved football during a seven-game unbeaten run. Racing midfielder Paige Monaghan and forward Cheyna Matthews will test the Angel City backline with their pace and creativity. 

With only three points separating the two sides in the table, Saturday’s contest is virtually a must-win for both club’s postseason hopes. The playoff race remains extremely tight.

Racing has lost only once at home this campaign and will feed off the energy of a packed stadium. If Louisville can channel that momentum and the World Cup star power into a complete team performance, three crucial points could be theirs.

This young Racing team has proven capable of rising to the occasion in big spots this season. The stage doesn’t get much bigger than a national television game with everything on the line. 

Expect a back-and-forth affair between two attack-minded teams hungry to solidify their playoff credentials. If the visitors get too stretched out, the speed of Racing’s front line could exploit space to punish Angel City on the counter.

With Lynn Family Stadium rocking and World Cup heroes back in the fold, Racing has the talent and motivation needed to secure a vital home victory. I think they will win this one 3-2.

Make sure to stick to Bluegrass Soccer Cast (@BGSoccerCast on all social media platforms) for full coverage of Racing Louisville and everything soccer in our beautiful Commonwealth. 

Photo: USA Today Sports Images

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.

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