LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Racing Louisville FC came off of a 16-day layoff but during its down time did not shake some of the bad habits that manager Christy Holly is trying to excise from his NWSL expansion team.
A mistake in the fifth minute led to a Washington Spirit goal, and despite numerous chances, Racing could not pull even, falling behind 2-0 in the second half before losing by that count in front of a Lynn Stadium crowd of 6,422.
“I’m not really up for excuses right now, to be quite honest with you,” Holly said. “We opened the game well and made a really silly decision in possession. Listen, we knew what they were going to do and that’s what they did. We have to learn the lessons of what these teams can do to us if we breathe for a second and let our foot off the gas, they’re going to punish you and that’s what they did.”
The game marked the Racing Louisville debut of Paris Saint-Germain standout Nadia Nadim, who joined the club last week and entered in the 55th minute. She made an immediate impact, tying for the team-high with four shots taken in just 35 minutes played, off only 14 touches. But she couldn’t have the kind of impact she wanted, in the end.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” Nadim said. “I think the fans were awesome. I loved the way they received me and after the game there are always a lot of fans and young girls that want to see you. Just disappointed we couldn’t deliver the three points. . . . We talked before the game that I would probably come in and play 35 minutes. . . . Obviously I wanted to go in and have an impact on the game. I didn’t have the impact I wanted to, but it’s been a good start in getting to know my teammates.”
Nadim was in the middle of everything on the offensive end, and late in the game, when she was trying to speed up the opposing goalkeeper, who was taking her time on goal kicks, at one point Nadim held up her hands. And when she turned around, the keeper tagged her in the back with her goal kick.
“That’s a first,” Nadim said afterward. “Unfortunately it didn’t land at my feet.”
“Nadia’s fantastic, obviously,” Holly said. “She’s someone we expect to change the club both internally and both on the field as well. She’s fantastic ambassador for the game of soccer. And I know what she can do on the pitch, I’ve known her for quite a long time. For the 35 minutes she was on there, she definitely caused a lot of problems.”
Overall, Holly said he was disappointed with the loss, and was frustrated with mistakes that led to goals. At the same time, he saw his team control 58 percent of possession and acknowledged that it played well in long stretches.
“Trust me as much as we know we’re trying to build something that’s going to be here for a very long time, the small losses hurt because they are opportunities for us to really make an impact,” Holly said. “But when I step back, the last few expansion teams have had to rebrand in their first 3-4 years. We have to make sure that we’re establishing our identity, living by the values we want to live by on a daily basis. And if we can get that in the short term, we should be there for the long term in the future.”
Next up for Racing will be a 10 p.m. start Saturday at OL Reign.
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