Preview: Racing Louisville (a).
When? Saturday August 16 4.30 p.m. PT, 7.30 p.m. ET and 00:30 BST.
Where? Lynn Family Stadium, Louisville, KY.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Paramount+ for residents of the United States, and on Twitch for international supporters.
This is one last hurrah as far as the Orlando Pride's play-off chances are concerned. With their hopes seemingly dead in the water, there can be absolutely no margin for error. There is still a mathematical chance, however unlikely, that Orlando could pull this off. This has to be a win, if not it's game over. If it's not already, to be honest.
Louisville will provide stern opposition. Although the Kentucky based outfit have long been eliminated from the hunt, don't be fooled into thinking this will be an easy game. Oftentimes, when a team has nothing to play for, the shackles come off. Relieved of the burden that comes with a play-off push, teams often flourish. Admittedly, this has yet to happen in Louisville. They have allowed 3+ goals in 4 consecutive games, including the 3-1 reversal at Exploria Stadium, Orlando's last victory.
Racing Louisville's style
This has been a tumultuous season for the debutants, they've struggled for form throughout much of the year. Their modest total of 17 points has them fully entrenched in the 2 horse wooden spoon race with Kansas City.
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Having conceded a league high 37 goals, there's much to improve on as they head into 2022. Simply put, they just allow far too many chances; their XGa rating of 1.7 is by far the highest in the league (figure 1). Their issue is, they have a really difficult time keeping hold of the ball, committing a high number of turnovers in midfield; against the Spirit, Washington made an astonishingly high 76 interceptions/recoveries (figure 2). That is a ridiculous number. Their short passing style allows for this, particularly in the absence of the talismanic Nadia Nadim. They simply do not have the talent required in order to carry off a short passing game effectively.
Figure 1 shows the highest XGa ratings overall in the league.
Figure 2 shows Washington's recovery/interception map against Louisville.
According to the NWSL injury report, Louisville will be without Gemma Bonner, Addisyn Merrick and Nadia Nadim. Other than those 3, they have a clean bill of health. Savannah McCaskill is suspended.
Orlando, on the other hand, will be without Jade Moore, Viviana Villacorta and Parker Roberts. Roberts is currently isolating in accordance with league Covid-19 protocols. Emily Van Egmond is available.
Possible starting XI
Louisville have rotated quite heavily over recent weeks, so it's difficult to accurately predict how they are going to line-up. Here's my best guesstimate:
The England international has taken to life in the NWSL rather well. The erstwhile Bristol City striker has netted 5 NWSL goals in 11 starts and 6 substitute appearances. Her conversion rate is certainly impressive, converting 23.8% of the shots she takes. Her impressive movement, pace and finishing have only served to underscore her potential.
Racing Louisville have lost 4 straight games, and currently sit 9th in the table, 11 points further back from ourselves in 8th. Louisville currently sit on a 4-5-12 record.
Orlando, meanwhile, are currently 7-7-8 and haven't won in the last 3, suffering straight defeats in that time. Orlando are currently 4 points off the play-offs with 2 games to go.
*All statistics courtesy of footystats.org and nwslsoccer.com
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