Despite creating significantly more chances and scoring opportunities, Racing Louisville fell 2-1 to the North Carolina Courage on Saturday night. This loss ended two important streaks for Racing. First, their at-home unbeaten which went back to the end of last season. It also ended their three-game consecutive win streak across all competition.
“We can’t hang our heads,” said captain Jaelin Howell. “Obviously we were on a high coming in on a three-game win streak. That was huge for us. That was huge for the club. But like I’ve said, even when we were winning, it’s still early in the season. It’s still early now. It’s important we bounce back. … I’m confident we’re going to do that.”
As a result of this match, Racing will stay in 8th place in the standings for another week with their overall 2-3-4 record and 10 points. Although the Orlando Pride share 10 points with Racing, Racing’s positive goal differential is keeping them ahead. If Angel City and the Orlando Pride had not also lost, Racing would have possibly dropped to 10th, so they’re lucky to stay as high as they are.
While Howell is correct, that it’s still fairly early in the season, Racing will have to start getting points if they’re going to stay in the running for a playoff berth. The top teams are starting to pull away from the lower half of the table and, as a result, the best Racing can do next week is move up one spot to seventh and that’s dependent on Racing winning and Houston either losing or drawing. If they don’t win, they could drop as far down as 10th place, so games are increasingly becoming must-wins.
All in all, this wasn’t a bad match from Racing, however. They came out slightly tepid and didn’t press well initially, but pulled it together and, defensively, shut out North Carolina in the first half. The first goal was deeply unlucky for Louisville because it was a header scored from an absurdly tight angle. The second was simply getting beat in transition which isn’t good, but is the risk that comes with the high-pressing style they play.
The fact Racing was able to pull back a late goal off a header by Jordan Baggett and create some decent threats to tie it was positive. This is the first loss this season that they didn’t get shut out. Still, North Carolina was the team directly above them in the standings. If they’re going to make the playoffs, they need to beat the teams that sit above them as well as just below them….