Racing Louisville finished their season on Sunday with a disappointing 2-0 loss to the San Diego Wave and found themselves in an all too familiar spot: Ninth place. For the entirety of their brief three-year existence in the National Women’s Soccer League, Racing has only ever finished in ninth place.
Heading into 2023, expectations weren’t necessarily sky-high for Louisville. The team wasn’t shy with vocalizing the goal of making the playoffs, and after bolstering their roster with solid acquisitions such as veteran defenders Abby Erceg and Carson Pickett, and Brazilian midfielder Ary Borges, this goal seemed attainable. At a minimum, they were expected to perform better than they did in previous seasons and at least get closer to the playoff race. But, unfortunately, that wasn’t in the cards.
It’s not that they didn’t come close. On several occasions, Racing was only a single point or two out from a post-season berth. But when push came to shove, they just couldn’t get over that line. Throughout the season, they put together an energetic and scrappy performance one week and then showed up looking slow and confused the next. Case in point, look at Louisville’s come-from-behind win to beat the then-first-place Portland Thorns 2-1 in early September — their first win ever over the Thorns — which was followed up by a tepid 0-1 loss to the Houston Dash who sat below them in the standings. Or look at Racing’s huge comeback from a two-goal deficit against the Orlando Pride that kept them in the playoff race, only to fall to San Diego on Sunday in an uninspired performance against a team that had never previously beaten or even scored on them. This problem is something captain Jaelin Howell described as “a tale of two teams.”
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