Preview: KC Current at Racing Louisville to open 2022 Challenge Cup

“We’re excited for the next part of the journey, which is going to play some games. We got to this point where we’ve been building our identity on and off the field and now we’re ready to play someone else.” – Matt Potter, current KC head coach

The Kansas City Current travels to Racing Louisville to kick off the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup at 6:30 pm tonight. Kansas City and Louisville have a lot of similarities, expansion teams in 2021, new coaches and revamped rosters everywhere.

After a relatively strong finish last season, the Current added a couple of American internationals (Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams), hired Matt Potter as the new head coach and signed several draft picks.

Williams and Mewis arrived from North Carolina in the offseason, joining former teammates Kristen Hamilton and Hailie Mace. The Courage went to three consecutive NWSL Championships while winning the Shields in 2017-2019 and won the NWSL Cup in 2018 and 2019.

With that success story in their past, for both club and country, they can be expected to help lead the Current to success, but it won’t be easy.

“It’s a new group and I’m excited to get out there and see how this group comes together,” said forward Lynn Williams. “In North Carolina it was very successful, but it took a long time to get to that point, it didn’t happen overnight.”

“I think this team has a lot of potential to get there and going into Louisville, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Williams continued. “We have a lot of good pieces and a hungry group, but it is a very new team so building those relationships will take some time. We’re going to have to go through some growing pains. Hopefully we go through the pain while we win.”

Louisville has changed more than half of its roster, adding World Cup winner Jess McDonald and two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jaelin Howell. They hired new head coach Kim Björkegren to manage the revamped Racing team.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kansas City Current: Forward Lynn Williams – The talented forward can score. Williams was the 2016 NWSL MVP, 2016 Golden Boot winner, and ranks second all-time in NWSL career goals and assists. She is also a regular on the US Women’s National Team.

Forward Kristen Hamilton: Pairing up with Courage’s former teammate could make them a dangerous combination.

Defender Alex Loera: The rookie defender can play multiple spots and could be a regular starter from the start of the year.

Louisville F.C. Careers: Forward Jess McDonald: Another talented player who was in North Carolina. McDonald ranks first all-time in regular season NWSL assists (27) and fourth in goals (51). The question will be whether he can maintain that scoring prowess on a team with a little less talent around him.

Midfielder Jaelin Howell – With 90 career appearances at Florida State, 14 goals and as many assists, Howell won back-to-back ACC Midfielder of the Year awards. Howell also won the Hermann Trophy in consecutive years. The rookie has also been capped twice by the US Women’s National Team.

Availability:

KANSAS CITY STREAM

OUTSIDE:Jaycie Johnson (thigh), Mallory Weber (thigh)

QUESTIONABLE:Taylor Leach (concussion)

RACING LOUISVILLE FC

OUTSIDE:Nadia Nadim (right leg)

Possible lineup:

Extremely difficult to predict at this point and with Coach Potter keeping all the information near the vest, this is a guess…

France

Edmonds, Loera, Leach, Maza

Scott, Pickett, LaBonta, Mewis

Williams, Hamilton

Also read:

List preview

Challenge Cup roster set

HOW TO SEE

Racing Louisville FC vs Kansas City Current

Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. CT

Lynn Family Stadium

Stream on Paramount+

amoloans