The regular season of the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League’s 2021 competition calendar kicked off on Saturday, after the Portland Thorns won the quasi-preseason Challenge Cup last week.
Throughout the regular season, The Equalizer will continue to bring you in-depth, industry-leading insight and analysis to subscribers (click here to subscribe and get premium content year-round). Our plan for game recaps is the following: one link for each day of game action, with context of what happened. The NWSL league site will give you box scores and stats; we don’t need to regurgitate that. Instead, we’ll look to catch you up on the key moments and tactical shifts. So, tonight, for example, we’ll add each of the three results as they go final. Check back at this same link after each game.
The goal of this format is to catch you up on what happened in a given match quickly but thoroughly enough to get you the need-to-know. We will still produce longer analysis in addition to these recaps. As always, let us know your thoughts, and we’ll adjust if needed based on feedback.
Racing Louisville FC 0, Kansas City 0
The Skinny: The NWSL’s two newest teams opened the regular season by sharing the points at Lynn Family Stadium. Louisville was on the front foot for most of the first half but lacked the final product in front of goal. The 2021 expansion side remains winless through five games in all competitions (four in the Challenge Cup). The scoreless draw was probably a just result as neither team really threatened for sustained periods. The teams combined for 23 shots but just four on goal.
One Key Factor: Savannah McCaskill was perhaps fittingly the standout of a match which felt close to breaking out at various points but never quite found its gear. At 24, McCaskill should still have better years ahead of her and is clearly a player Louisville is building around. She came close to scoring in the second half, but she is yet to register a point for her new team. Christy Holly decided to start Katie McClure over rookie Emina Ekic, who had a strong Challenge Cup — and whose creativity nicely complements that of McCaskill.
— The Equalizer (@EqualizerSoccer) May 15, 2021
Inside the Game: Cece Kizer’s close-range miss in first-half stoppage time, after Savannah McCaskill brilliantly burnt Mallory Weber to get to the end line, was the miss of the game and should have put Louisville on the board. Lo’eau LaBonta’s head injury a half-hour into the match removed some of the attacking bite from Kansas City’s midfield. Rookie Victoria Pickett made up for that at times, showing off her potential — particularly on the dribble.
— Jeff Kassouf