The regular-season recognitions keep rolling in for OL Reign, as three players — Alana Cook, Jess Fishlock, and Eugénie Le Sommer — were named to the NWSL Best XI first team today. Sofia Huerta and Bethany Balcer were named to the Best XI second team.
The Best XI First Team and Best XI Second Team were based on a weighted voting scale comprised of players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%). Each athlete will receive a cash bonus for their achievements.
Here’s a bit more about the Reign award recipients
NWSL Best XI - First Team
Alana Cook: After joining the Reign from PSG in June, Cook played every minute of all 20 matches she started. The defender had an 84.3% pass completion rate, made 92 clearances and blocked 23 shots. According to FotMob, Cook was seventh in the league in clearances per match and third in passes per match. Perhaps most importantly, she helped bring order to what was a bit of a chaotic backline at the start of the year.
Jessica Fishlock: The 2021 NWSL MVP, Fishlock was good for the Reign even when they struggled and continued to be instrumental in OL Reign’s dominant second half of the season. The midfielder tallied five goals and four assists, while also applying a lot of pressure in the midfield. According to FotMob, Fishlock was fifth in the league in possession won in the final third. She completed 76.4% of her passes and provided 47 key passes across 23 games, averaging the eighth-most key passes per game. This is Fishlock’s fifth time being named to the NWSL Best XI First Team.
Eugénie Le Sommer: Scoring three braces this season, Le Sommer ranked third in goal scoring among the NWSL. In addition to her eight goals, the forward also provided three assists to her teammates. She made 20 key passes in the 18 games she played. Like Fishlock, Le Sommer was also relied upon to win possession back for her team and was a big part of OL Reign’s press. FotMob stats confirm that Le Sommer was second in the league in possession won in the final third.
NWSL Best XI - Second Team
Sofia Huerta: Moving to play outside back at the end of August is when Huerta really began to shine, but she excelled up the flank all season for OL Reign. Huerta led the league in assists, tallying six on the season and adding one goal. She played 2,106 minutes, the most of any OL Reign player this season. Huerta completed 37 key passes through 24 games and had a solid 81.8% passing success rate. According to FotMob, Huerta also created the most “big chances” in the league—four more than the next-best performer, Carson Pickett, who was named to the Best XI first team.
Bethany Balcer: The forward scored nine goals this season, ranking second in the NWSL Golden Boot race. She scored five goals with her head, often getting on the end of Huerta’s crosses. What is perhaps most impressive about Balcer is her goals-per-minute rate. She led the league in this category, scoring a goal every 134 minutes.
2021 NWSL Best XI First Team
Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
Midfielders and Forwards: Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Jessica Fishlock (OL Reign), Eugénie Le Sommer (OL Reign), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Angela Salem (Portland Thorns FC)
2021 NWSL Best XI Second Team
Goalkeeper: Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC)
Defenders: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Emily Menges (Portland Thorns FC)
Midfielders and Forwards: Bethany Balcer (OL Reign), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Ifeoma Onumonu (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sydney Leroux (Orlando Pride), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars)