Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide which player put in the best performance and deserves Player of the Week honors. Sometimes, but not this week. Seattle Reign FC forward Naho Kawasumi was voted by members of the NWSL Media Association as the NWSL Player of the Week for Week 5.
Sorry to the rest of the standout performers, but it wasn’t even close. Kawasumi contributed to all six goals scored by Reign FC en route to a 6-2 win over the Washington Spirit. She assisted on four goals, would have received a fifth if the league counted secondary assists, and scored one of her own.
Naho’s four assists is an NWSL record for the most assists in a match, and propelled Kawasumi into the league lead for assists this season.
On top of that, Naho was credited for creating eight chances in the match, connected 43 passes, had two shots on goal, and even amassed two tackles. All one has to do is watch the match highlights to see how much of an influence Naho had on this game.
As Christine Nairn said in her post-match remarks after Reign FC’s home win, “[Naho] is unbelievable. Just when you think she’s going to do something like shoot, she passes, and vice versa. I think she’s shown why she’s one of the best players in the world.”
Remarking on scoring her first goal this season with Reign FC — jump-started and assisted by Kawasumi — Nairn said, “Naho did what she has done multiple times throughout this year. She did all the hard work and laid me a perfect ball back, exactly where I could strike first-time.”
Megan Rapinoe echoed Nairn’s comments, stating that Naho “is one of the best passers of the ball, in my opinion, in the world. I think she’s proven that throughout her whole career.”
While Naho put in a strong performance throughout the match, her talents really shined when the Spirit moved to a three-person backline — opening up so much space for both Naho and Rapinoe to exploit. That’s when things got wild, with Seattle scoring four goals in just 10 minutes.
“I personally think we’re really hard to play against if you play a back-three,” said Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “When they went to their back three, I felt like Naho and Rapinoe became even more dangerous than they already had been.”
This is the third time in five weeks that a Reign FC player was selected Player of the Week. Haley Kopmeyer took home the honor in Week 1, while Jess Fishlock received the award the following week. This also marks the fourth Player of the Week honor for Kawasumi since joining the league in 2014, and it is the 16th time a member of Reign FC won Player of the Week — the most in the league.
We’ll see if Naho and her teammates can keep the momentum going this weekend, when Seattle Reign FC host the Orlando Pride at Memorial Stadium. The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 21.