Riding a three-game winning streak in regular-season play, OL Reign is on the road this Saturday to take on Racing Louisville FC. The match kicks off at 4:30 PM PT at Lynn Family Stadium and will stream on Paramount+ (U.S.), TSN+ (Canada), and NWSLSoccer.com (International).
Saturday’s match starts another three-game week for the Reign, who host Angel City on Wednesday for a Challenge Cup match before welcoming the Houston Dash for a regular season game on Saturday evening.
Racing Louisville is coming off a two-game road trip where they drew 2-2 with Angel City FC before losing 2-0 to the Portland Thorns. OL Reign won all three matches in a three-game week, including their first Challenge Cup game of the year.
The game marks an important milestone for the league, as it will be the 1,000th NWSL regular-season match. OL Reign and Racing Louisville held a joint press conference with captains Lauren Barnes and Jaelin Howell to commemorate the moment. Both reflected on the progress that’s been made and the increase in women’s soccer investment over the last few years.
“There’s been a lot of change, especially with the last three years. We started at Starfire, and then now we’re in Lumen, it just goes to show you where the league is going, and where the investments are going, which I think is really important to highlight,” Barnes said.
The Reign captain noted that this investment has also produced a more competitive league, with young players making instant impacts for their clubs.
“For me, with this being my 11th [season], I think it’s the best competition I’ve seen from top to bottom, which is really fun for me. I think the development and investment in the youth has been incredible to watch. When I was here in 2013, the pool was very limited, diluted as well, and we continue to expand.”
Barnes isn’t wrong about the tight competition, and Racing Louisville (0-1-3) — while still searching for their first win of the season — is going to be a tough opponent for the Reign on Saturday. In fact, the Reign haven’t defeated Louisville on the road in the last two regular seasons — drawing three of the last four matches against the 2021 expansion team.
What makes Racing Louisville so dangerous? A rotated Reign squad in the Portland preseason tournament fell 2-0 to Louisville because they couldn’t handle the team’s constant pressure and press. Savannah DeMelo also has lethal service on set pieces, in addition to being disruptive with her ability to carry the ball forward in the attack, and both Howell and Abby Erceg are strong in the air.
Louisville’s new additions — Erceg, Carson Pickett, and Elli Pikkujämsä on the backline, Ary Borges in the midfield, and Uchenna Kanu on the frontline — have given Racing more stability on the defensive side while also giving them more creativity and bite in the attack. While they looked vulnerable in transition in 2022, Racing is more settled this season. Alongside these newcomers, Katie Lund returns as Louisville’s goalkeeper. She was one of the best shot-stoppers last year and leads the league in saves so far in 2023.
“It’s an opponent that we know is also a threat on set pieces,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said about Louisville in a pre-match press conference. “We know obviously from playing them in preseason that they also like to press, so we’ve got to be prepared to be able to counteract that a little bit.”
How can OL Reign beat the press? They have to be clean in possession while building out of the back — and look for the space that’s available behind the pressure.
Last weekend, the Reign figured out how to make the most of their touches in the final third, and they should get plenty of chances in this area of the field again on Saturday. After four matches, Louisville has allowed the most passes into their final third and penalty box out of any team in the league. It will be up to OL Reign to once again have a great final ball or shot if they get those chances.
Unfortunately, the Reign will once again be without Quinn and Rose Lavelle, whose knee injury that was described as a minor knock by U.S. Soccer has now kept her out of four matches. Olivia Van der Jagt is out once again with an excused absence, which is typically for personal reasons. Their teammates have stepped up while they’ve been out and will look to do the same again this weekend.
If OL Reign gets its first regular season win in Louisville, it will be the club’s 100th win. The Reign would join Portland as the only team so far to reach this milestone.
Injury / Availability Report
OUT: Angelina (SEI – knee), Rose Lavelle (leg), Phoebe McClernon (back), Veronica Latsko (excused absence), Quinn (leg), Olivia Van der Jagt (excused absence)
OUT: Jordyn Bloomer (back), Emina Ekic (ankle), Thembi Kgatlana (ankle), Jess McDonald (excused absence), Nadia Nadim (knee), Elli Pikkujämsä (thigh)
⚽// @RacingLouFC vs @OLReign (7:30PM ET)#PRO | #NWSL | #RacingLou | #ReignSupreme pic.twitter.com/CL1fP3ZA56— PRO (@PROreferees) April 29, 2023
Your Starting XI Racing Louisville FC— OL Reign (@OLReign) April 29, 2023
@paramountplus | TSN+#ReignSupreme pic.twitter.com/eu8ZZYh8G8
Ready for it. @julia_lest & @paigeqmonaghan are poised to make their first starts of the season. For more notes on tonight's XI https://t.co/hhiTwZpVhC#LOUvRGN | @BreezeAirways pic.twitter.com/qWBcjCFLPj— Racing Louisville FC (@RacingLouFC) April 29, 2023
90’ - Jordyn Huitema leaps to connect with a Cook cross to equalize!
90th-minute equalizing header!! In the 1000th NWSL game! You can't write this stuff! Just wow, @JordynHuitema pic.twitter.com/Qltao4FOed— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 30, 2023
7’ - Paige Monaghan opens the scoring for Racing.
.@paigemonaghanfc's first in Louisville gives @RacingLouFC an early lead! pic.twitter.com/L2ak01QxrJ— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 29, 2023
45’ - DeMelo doubles Racing’s lead with a rocket from the top of the box off an uncleared corner.
TAKE A BOW @Savannah_DeMelo pic.twitter.com/kbKIPJBdUT— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 30, 2023
69’ - Megan Rapinoe brings the Reign back within 1 on a penalty.
League-leading PK goal-scorer scoring in the 100th NWSL match?— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) April 30, 2023
Casual @mPinoe pic.twitter.com/dIq06pOfxe
How to Watch
Date/Time: 4:30 PM PT on Saturday, April 29
Location: Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, KY
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), TSN+ (Canada), and NWSLSoccer.com (International)
Join the Discussion
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