Racing Louisville FC is headed to the West Coast this week for the team’s final road trip of the season, and the first-place Portland Thorns are next up on the docket.
Louisville and Portland kick off at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Providence Park in a rematch of a July 29 meeting between the teams that the Thorns won.
Racing (3-8-8, 17 points) enters Wednesday’s match on a high, having beaten the Orlando Pride, 2-0, on Friday to snap a 13-game winless streak. Coach Kim Björkegren’s team has been eliminated from playoff contention but wants to use the final stretch of the season to springboard into the 2023 campaign.
A win in Portland would go a long way toward that with Racing in 11th place in the NWSL, two points behind recently resurgent Washington.
The last time the teams met, Hina Sugita’s 74th-minute goal stood as the game-winner in Portland’s 2-1 victory in Louisville, Thorns FC’s third win in three matchups against Racing since the club joined the league last year. Alex Chidiac scored the lone goal for Racing in the 29th minute after Portland’s Sophia Smith opened the scoring in the seventh minute.
Portland (8-3-8, 32 points) possesses one of the league’s most potent attacks, led by Smith and her 11 goals. The U.S. Women’s National Team standout has been in great form all season in the NWSL, emerging as one of the league’s leading MVP candidates.
Thorns FC is currently in fourth place after a 1-1 draw in Kansas City on Sunday against KC Current. Portland is only two points out of first, however, with a game in hand on each of the three teams ahead in the standings
• The game will stream live on Paramount+ in the United States and on Twitch internationally.
Player Availability Report
No chill in DeMelo: Racing midfielder Savannah DeMelo continued her breakout rookie campaign with her fourth goal of the season on Friday against Orlando. The California native, who was the NWSL Rookie of the Month for July, is second on the team in goals, with all four coming from outside the area. DeMelo, the fourth pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, leads the league in chances created and fouls won, and she is the only player in the NWSL to score twice on a direct free kick.
McDonald’s milestones: Veteran forward Jess McDonald became the fourth player in NWSL history to reach 175 regular-season appearances, joining league mainstays Lauren Barnes (186), McCall Zerboni (185) and Merritt Mathias (180). On Friday, McDonald also added to her league record for career assists, now up to 31, by helping Nadia Nadim score in the 10th minute. McDonald is tied for fifth in the league this year with four assists – three of which came on Nadim goals.
Nadia keeps scoring: Star striker Nadia Nadim returns to her previous NWSL home on a hot streak, with goals in each of her past two games and three over the past five. Nadim, who won an NWSL title with Portland in 2017, leads Racing with six goals in 10 appearances this season.
Lundbelievable: Goalkeeper Katie Lund extended her commanding league lead in saves with seven more in a shutout against Orlando on Friday, running her season total to 86. The next-closest goalkeeper is Orlando’s Erin McLeod, who has stopped 61 shots. Lund has seven clean sheets across all competitions this year, including five in the regular season.
On the table: Racing snapped a 13-game winless streak on Friday but is still in a battle to climb the NWSL standings, currently sitting at 11th place, two points back from Washington and four behind ninth-place Orlando. A silver lining: Racing is in position to secure a top pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft.
Giving Back: Emina Ekic and Racing Louisville FC are in the running to win the Nationwide Impact Award for volunteer service with Blessings in a Backpack, a national charity originating in Louisville that focuses on feeding children on the weekend. Nationwide and the NWSL have partnered to advance local service projects. The season-long initiative began in July and a winner will be announced in October during the NWSL Championship week. The winner of the Nationwide Impact Award receives a $25,000 donation to further the organization’s efforts.