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Salmon's debut heroics boost Racing past Houston Dash

By Racing Louisville FC Communications, 06/20/21, 6:45PM EDT

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The recently signed striker scored less than a minute into her club and NWSL debut.


Photo: Courtesy of Connor Cunningham

All of 20 years old, Ebony Salmon recently arrived to Louisville with plenty of promise. It took her less than 60 seconds to start living up to it.

The new Racing Louisville FC forward came on as a 71st-minute substitution Sunday and scored nearly instantly thanks to a nifty bit of footwork, sparking her new side to a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dash at Lynn Family Stadium.

Salmon, named England’s FA Women’s Super League Young Player of the Year by the Athletic exiting the 2020-2021 season with Bristol City, was announced as a new Racing signing in May. She then joined training in June toward Sunday’s debut NWSL appearance.

“Watching from the bench I knew that I could come on and create something, but definitely I was surprised that I came on and scored so quick," Salmon said. "I think it’s been a really good two weeks of training with the girls, and I’ve just wanted to get myself going and get into a game, and I think that getting in 20, 25 minutes in the bank and getting a goal is a really good start for me.”

En route to her strike, Salmon controlled a well-played ball through from teammate Savannah McCaskill, initially finding her back to the goal. With a couple of flicks, she dribbled in behind and finished smoothly to the goalkeeper’s left, scoring the same minute in which she entered the game.

Salmon went on to number two more shots after her goal and numbered 15 total touches in limited time on the pitch to mark the start of what she could do for Racing.

“I think the big thing for us was to be able to attract Ebony," said Racing's head coach, Christy Holly. "I don’t know how many people in America truly knew what Ebony could do and maybe what she’ll go on to do. We’re very excited about it.

"We know she’s a project. We know she’s got a lot of growth ahead of her, but to be able to turn to the bench and have that type of player come off the bench and really introduce herself to the NWSL with a soccer player’s finish is something we’re very excited about."

The victory — a second across all competitions for the expansion club — moved Racing to 2-1-2 with Salmon not the only newcomer available to Holly exiting a recent international break.

Manchester City transfer Gemma Bonner went the full 90 minutes Sunday at center back, Julia Ashley subbed on at outside back for her regular season debut, and defender Addie Merrick was available for the first time as a substitute on the return from a back injury.

One constant remained: Racing needed a big performance from its team captain to stay in the game. Goalkeeper Michelle Betos tallied seven saves and punched away another Houston chance on an afternoon when the attempts came in bunches.

Betos turned away shots in the 31s and 33rd minutes, the latter leading to a Dash header into the back of the net disallowed for offside. Later, an 87th-minute sequence in goal held a lead when Betos made her final save and a pair of defensive blocks followed.

"Everyone’s young, everyone’s coming hungry, and we just want to get better as a team and grow, and I think hopefully today was another good step in the right direction," Bonner said. "Obviously, there’s a lot of things we can be better at, especially from the first half but I think the way that we managed the game a bit better in the heat, we can definitely take those positives forward into the next part of the season."

Racing, which dropped a pair of lopsided away results before the international break, is 2-0-1 at home early in its inaugural regular season — all of them clean sheets. That record will be tested when perennial NWSL power NC Courage visits for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Lynn Family Stadium.

Game Summary: Racing Louisville FC vs. Houston Dash

Venue: Lynn Family Stadium

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy

Player of the Match: Ebony Salmon

Attendance: 5,971

Scoring

Racing Louisville FC (0, 1, 1)

Houston Dash (0, 0, 0)

Goals

Racing Louisville FC:

71’ Ebony Salmon (assisted by McCaskill)

Stats Summary: Racing Louisville FC / Houston Dash

Shots: 11 / 23

Shots on Goal: 5 / 8

Fouls: 6 / 7

Offside: 5 / 4

Corner Kicks: 4 / 6

Saves: 7 / 4

Lineups

Racing Louisville FC: 1 – Michelle Betos, 14 – Nealy Martin, 4 – Gemma Bonner, 3 – Erin Simon (85’ 16 – Julia Ashley), 5 – Cece Kizer (71’ 9 – Ebony Salmon), 2 – Lauren Milliet (85’ 12 – Sinclaire Miramontez), 8 - Freja Olofsson, 11 – Emily Fox, 13 – Emina Ekic (56’ 22 – Katie McClure), 17 – Yuki Nagasato (90 + 6’ 20 – Cheyna Matthews), 7 – Savannah McCaskill (90 + 6’ 18 – Kaleigh Riehl)

Subs not used: 23 – Katie Lund, 26 – Addisyn Merrick, 33 – Jorian Baucom

Houston Dash: 1 – Jane Campbell, 2 – Allysha Chapman, 25 – Katie Naughton, 11 – Megan Oyster (81’ 23 – Ally Prisock), 9 – Haley Hanson, 13 – Sophie Schmidt (86’ 14 – Brianna Visalli), 19 – Kristie Mewis, 6 – Shea Groom (68’ 5 – Gabby Seiler), 7 – Maria Sanchez (68’ 22 – Jasmyne Spencer), 8 – Nichelle Prince (86’ 33 – Makamae Gomera-Stevens), 12 – Veronica Latsko

Subs not used: 24 – Jamia Fields, 20 – Lindsey Harris

Discipline Summary

Racing Louisville FC: Bonner (yellow) 10’

Houston Dash: Latsko (yellow) 7’

Referee: Laura Rodriguez

Assistant Referees: Meghan Mullen, Maggie Short

Fourth Official: Chris Schurfranz


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