By Tyler Trent
Rauch with the German National Team (Photo courtesy of Bernd Feil)
The North Carolina Courage has announced the signing of German left-back Felicitas (Feli) Rauch to a two-year guaranteed contract. Rauch's signing will require the use of an international roster spot, however, the Courage has all required international roster spots for the players signed to the roster for 2024.
The 27-year-old left-back has been playing in the Frauen Bundesliga in Germany for Wolfsburg since 2019, where she won the league in the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 seasons and the DFB Pokal four consecutive times starting with the 2019-20 season. Previously, Rauch played at Turbine Potsdam at the academy, second-team, and first-team levels.
Below you can find a profile of Rauch's statistics compared to other fullbacks in the Frauen Bundesliga last season. In the Bundesliga, Rauch has been elite in many statistical categories for passing and ball progression, which Coach Nahas will value in continuing to implement and develop his playstyle.
Radar courtesy of Ben Griffis *Wyscout data error for tackles
Rauch will also likely take over on many set pieces, she particularly shines on inswinging corner kicks and free kicks from the right side of the pitch. Often when corners are taken from the left side of the pitch, Rauch acts as a short corner option to play an attacking ball into the box with her strong left foot.
The German left-back has versatility on her side. For Wolfsburg, Rauch was often making well-timed runs into the box and out wide, but you would also see her taking up space in the middle of the pitch during build-up play to facilitate progression. When Rauch is able to find open space on the pitch or teams allow her freedom to build out of the back, she is capable of playing clinical balls forward and over the top and taking every bit of space given to her to move the ball forward.
Rauch regularly displayed good communication with her teammates on the pitch - an often overlooked importance in assessing players.
The signing of Rauch puts the Courage roster at 29, assuming the three drafted players sign contracts with the team. Three of these players were on the season-ending injury (SEI) list at the end of 2023: Kerolin, Meredith Speck, and Clara Robbins. Assuming they are all out to begin the season, that puts the roster at 26 meeting the maximum roster size for 2024.
*Predicted Courage Roster based on available information - positions are fluid