Expansion side Racing Louisville FC will start its National Women’s Soccer League era with a 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup schedule that boasts plenty of international star power.
The league’s 10 clubs are slated to play four games apiece within their respective East and West divisions before leaders exiting the group stage advance to a May 8 final.
Season members — of which Racing already has more than 3,000 — will be contacted about first right to purchase Challenge Cup tickets for games at Lynn Family Stadium. Visit RacingLouFC.com/tickets to join the list today and guarantee a spot in the venue.
Announced Tuesday, Racing’s NWSL debut is a home game set for 7 p.m. Saturday, April 10, against an Orlando Pride squad featuring U.S. National Team striker Alex Morgan and Marta, a Brazilian legend who has scored a record 17 goals in FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions.
Louisville travels next for a 7 p.m. Friday, April 16, matchup with the Washington Spirit. During the offseason, the Spirit added U.S. international defenders Kelly O’Hara and Emily Sonnett to their roster.
Racing returns to Lynn Family Stadium on Monday, April 26, with kickoff at 6 p.m. against the North Carolina Courage. Back-to-back NWSL champs in 2018 and 2019, the Courage feature national team member Lynn Williams and Debinha, another Brazilian mainstay.
Group play concludes for Racing with a trip to play Sky Blue FC at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 2. New Jersey-based Sky Blue is welcoming back two-time World Cup winner and 2015 FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, who missed all of 2020 due to injury.
The other half of the Challenge Cup, the West division, consists of the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City, OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC.
"We're very excited about the Challenge Cup,” said Racing Louisville’s head coach, Christy Holly. “It'll be really nice after all the planning to see our team run out at Lynn Family Stadium. There’s no easy game in this tournament, making for a brilliant learning process.”
Four Challenge Cup games will air on CBS Sports Network, while other games stream in the United States via 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.
Presenting Challenge Cup sponsor Secret Deodorant and the NWSL have created a “Rookie Class” program of interest for a young Racing squad. It creates sponsorship opportunities for rookies competing in the tournament as Secret and NWSL hope to continue building media equity for women in sports.
“I’m so excited to kick off a new year in style with the 2021 Challenge Cup presented by Secret Deodorant and thrilled to once again partner with our friends at CBS Sports to bring the best women’s soccer league in the world to our viewers,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “My thanks to CBS, Twitch and all of our partners for continuing to invest in this league and showcasing these incredible athletes.”
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.
Racing Louisville FC in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup
April 10 vs. Orlando Pride at Lynn Family Stadium (7 p.m., Paramount+)
April 16 vs. Washington Spirit at Segra Field (7 p.m., Paramount+)
April 26 vs. North Carolina Courage at Lynn Family Stadium (6 p.m., Paramount+)
May 2 vs. Sky Blue FC at Montclair State (12:30 p.m., Paramount+)