Racing Louisville FC will make its National Women’s Soccer League debut as a member of the NWSL Challenge Cup’s East division, it was announced Monday, with the expansion club’s first games against the North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Sky Blue FC and Washington Spirit.
Presented by Secret Deodorant, the Challenge Cup tournament kicks off at 8:30 p.m April 9 when the Houston Dash host the Chicago Red Stars. The West division’s other teams are Kansas City, OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC.
A full Challenge Cup schedule is due out Tuesday. Each club will play the four others in its group while looking to qualify for a May 8 final.
As opposed to the inaugural Challenge Cup, a bubble environment event last year as the NWSL returned to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 edition will be contested in team markets.
Racing Louisville FC, coached by Christy Holly, will play its home games at the new Lynn Family Stadium. The inaugural roster assembled primarily through expansion and college drafts includes U.S. Women’s National Team defender Emily Fox, former University of Louisville forward Emina Ekic and Yuki Nagasato, a World Cup winner with Japan, among others.
Racing’s season members — of which there are already more than 3,000 — will receive first right to purchase Challenge Cup tickets for games at Lynn Family Stadium. Visit RacingLouFC.com/tickets to join the list today.
The Challenge Cup opener and three additional games will air on CBS Sports Network, while other games will stream in the United States on Paramount+, the newly launched premium streaming service from ViacomCBS. All games will be available internationally on Twitch, including in Canada for all games that are not on CBS Sports Network.
As part of Secret’s continued investment in women’s equality and advocacy for women in sports, Secret and the league are creating a NWSL Rookie Class program. Through this program there will be sponsorship opportunities for NWSL rookies competing in the tournament. By creating this program Secret and NWSL hope to continue to build media equity for women in sports.
“As a women’s brand, we are especially proud to systemically address the lack of representation and sponsorship in women’s sports through our NWSL partnership,” said Sara Saunders, senior brand director of Secret & Gillette. “By supporting the Rookie program this year, we will strengthen the development pipeline for women’s professional soccer.”
Following the Challenge Cup, the NWSL’s 10 teams will face off in a 24-game regular season beginning May 15. Six teams will qualify for an expanded NWSL playoffs set to begin on Nov. 6, with the top two seeds receiving first-round byes.