The parties signed a two-year contract with an option to extend. She will join her new club Louisville when the Africa Women Cup of Nations comes to an end on July 23.
“We were looking for a winger/forward who has a good first touch and is not afraid to dribble and attack – and we have found exactly that with Thembi,” said Racing coach Kim Björkegren.
“What’s also important to us is that we signed not just a good player but a good teammate. Thembi always has a smile on her face and loves football, and she is ready to help the team as soon as she arrives in Louisville.”
READ ALSO: Manchester United announce Dutch signing
Kgatlana played previously in the NWSL for the Houston Dash and has also represented clubs in China, Portugal and Spain. She joins Racing after a year with four-time Spanish champion Atlético Madrid, where she made 28 appearances and nine starts across all competitions. Kgatlana tallied seven goals and three assists in helping the club finish fourth in Spain’s Primera División and reach the final of the Supercopa Feminina.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity to return to the NWSL with Racing Louisville,” Kgatlana said.
“It has always felt like there is unfinished business for me in the league, and I can’t wait to get started. From the moment I spoke with Kim, it was clear that it is an exciting project. I joined Beijing BG Phoenix shortly after he had left and heard only good things, so it was an easy decision. I look forward to seeing everyone after the Cup of Nations!”
Also a national team standout, Kgatlana has 22 goals in 63 appearances for South Africa, including her country’s first-ever World Cup goal, which she scored against Spain in 2019.
She debuted for South Africa’s senior team as a high school senior at the 2014 Africa Women Cup of Nations and twice started as a 20-year-old at the 2016 Olympics.
In 2018, Kgatlana led her team to the Africa Women Cup of Nations final, earning player of the tournament honors for the runner-up.
“We are very pleased to bring Thembi to Racing Louisville,” said club president James O’Connor. “She will bring a wealth of experience with her. She has played in multiple countries at the highest level and also has NWSL experience. Thembi also has been a leader for her national team with a phenomenal goal-scoring record. Our supporters will be excited to see her play as she is an attacking player who can create and score goals.”