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The casual, often overlooked excellence of Dzsenifer Marozsán

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Sometimes, you have to look beyond the stats to understand the German midfielder’s influence.

MikeRussellFoto / SounderAtHeart

It feels like an understatement at this point to say that OL Reign’s roster is overflowing with talent. The team is so stacked, head coach Laura Harvey was able to start a world-class midfield in September that didn’t include Jess Fishlock and Olympic Gold Medalist Quinn, who were both being rested for fixture congestion reasons.

After sitting in 9th place at the end of June, OL Reign turned things around and earned a home semifinal match for the playoffs — boasting the best record in the second half of the season. They even had a fighting chance to win the NWSL Shield two weeks ago.

OL Reign fans are truly seeing the positive results of being able to add Rose Lavelle, Eugenie Le Sommer, Dzsenifer Marozsán, Sarah Bouhaddi, and Alana Cook to the roster this year. And while there have been accolades shared for all these newcomers, there is one player who might not be getting the recognition she fully deserves: Marozsán.

That’s because, to put it frankly, everything that Marozsán does looks so damn easy. It’s not always flashy, but her casual brilliance in all aspects of the game — similar to former Reign player Kim Little — is what makes her so good.

Don’t be fooled by first impressions or the stat test. Marozsán is often pulling the strings to make the Reign’s offense work. That was especially true in the Reign’s last two matches in September. Against the Orlando Pride, Marozsán notched two assists, including this ridiculous one-time pass to Le Sommer in the box.

“I think that’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said after the game. “And that’s a big statement because I’ve seen some good goals from this team in the years, but I think that’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live. Her pass to Euge[nie] was just honestly ridiculous. Ridiculous.”

Photographer Nikita Taparia got the perfect snap of Marozsan’s assist. The vision to see this play is simply brilliant.
Nikita Taparia

Marozsán finished the game creating four additional chances and connecting 84% of her passes.

While she didn’t get on the scoresheet against Racing Louisville in early September, Marozsán’s impact could be felt even more in that road match. She finished with 95 touches, 62 accurate passes (83% pass completion rate) and six key passes. Roughly half of those came in the Reign’s attacking half, and she was 6 for 11 on long balls. On the defensive end, Maro won 10 of her 11 duels and had nine ball recoveries.

Pass map for Dzsenifer Marozsan (vs. Racing Louisville)

These two games also point to Marozsán’s versatility. Against Louisville, she was asked to play deeper and defend more. The stats and pass map show that, as she had more touches and more defensive metrics. When the Reign faced the Pride in late September, Marozsán played as a withdrawn forward who was allowed to go wherever she wanted in the attack. Her free-roaming role overloaded the Pride’s double-pivot midfield — creating lots of space for her midfield and attacking teammates.

“I think then you’ve got the clever players like Jess and the clever players like Rose, who work off of Marsozán. And that gives us this fluidity that’s really hard to stop,” Harvey said after the match — before adding that it’s a joy to have a player like Marozsán who reads the game so well. “She’s not a player that you really coach that much honestly on the ball … I just asked her to do her defending job and tell her to do whatever she wants when we have it. Like literally do whatever you want when we have it, I don’t care, because she’s that good. She’s that good,” Harvey said.

That work on the defensive side was also evident in the Reign’s final match of the regular season, a road game in Kansas City — a team that, despite sitting at the bottom of the table, hadn’t lost at home since June. Harvey let Marozsán, again playing as a False No. 9, dictate how and when the team pressed.

“It was definitely the game plan — between the three of Euge, Maro, and Pinoe, that they dictated how we pressed. And if Maro decided to jump, we pressed a certain way. If Pinoe or Euge decided to jump, we pressed in a different way. And I think that when we do that, we're a threat, and we caused them a lot of problems doing that today.”

That’s the part of Maro’s development with the Reign that Harvey is most proud of witnessing. She noted that Marozsán, Pinoe, and Le Sommer all do things on the ball that blow her mind. Some of their passes — done so casually — are plays that few in the league can make. But that’s not enough to get by in the NWSL.

“In this league, it’s not enough. You’ve got to do the other side of the game. And I thought Maro was brilliant tonight on that,” Harvey said after the final regular-season match. “Ran, pressed, competed. And then, once you have to show quality, she showed it. I’m desperate for that girl to score a goal because some of the stuff that she does is phenomenal.”

Speaking of phenomenal, since her arrival in June, Marozsán has amassed 46 key passes in 1,393 minutes — good for about 3 per 90 minutes. According to FotMob, Marozsán is third in the league in key passes per match on a team with players like Sofia Huerta, Fishlock, Lavelle, and Pinoe, who are also doling out plenty of key passes of their own. She’s also won 61% of her tackles, 54% of her duels, and 64% of her aerial duels — in case you thought she was only an offensive threat.

For a player like Marozsán, however, stats only tell a small part of the story. Unless you pay close attention to her throughout the game, you might not notice her movement to create space for her teammates in the midfield. Or her awareness of where someone is about to make a run. Or her work to reposition herself to provide cover on the defensive end.

And the outside view doesn’t really matter to a player like Maro, who has never been drawn to the spotlight. As Jess Fishlock said in 2019 on Twitter while watching a battle between Lyon and PSG, “Marozsán is just so good. She is just so simple, so classy, so effective.” Fishlock, who played with Maro earlier that year at Lyon and in 2015 at Frankfurt, added to the praise. “She is very very capable of doing the outstanding things ... But doesn’t look for that, just plays the game for what it needs, when it needs it. She’s a Dream.”

Rose Lavelle shared similar comments in a recent press conference. “She’s so good. She literally just doesn’t lose the ball. She makes every pass look good — every pass of hers is good. She is so fun to play with and I just feel like she reads your movement so well, she gets you the ball exactly where you want it, when you want it. She’s incredible.”

Lavelle’s face after the Reign’s third goal against Orlando perfecting captured this sentiment and how she feels about Marozsán’s abilities. If you re-watch the highlight of that goal, you can also see Lavelle run to Maro in disbelief. She was all of us at that moment.

Nikita Taparia

Among the brilliant assists, however, there are more subtle examples of Marozsán’s hold on the game. Like when she brings the ball down with the softest touch and flicks it behind her under pressure, then calmly finds a teammate.

Content made on Kapwing

Or makes a perfect cross-field vertical pass that keeps her teammate in stride.

Content made on Kapwing

Or casually threads a no-look pass to Rapinoe for a hockey assist.

Content made on Kapwing

These small moments are what make Marozsán’s performance hard to evaluate at times. What might look like a Herculean attempt from any other player becomes the simplest pass from Maro. “The thing that makes me laugh about Marozsán is that she doesn’t even look like she’s trying,” Harvey shared with a smile after the Reign’s 3-0 thumping of the Pride.

None of this, however, surprises Harvey. “I’ve watched Marozsán play since she was 12. I watched her play when she was 12 for Germany’s Under-15 against England and knew then that she was going to be exceptional. She’s been doing this stuff since she was that age.”

The scary thing for other teams? Maro might not be at her peak just yet. “She’s a very scary prospect because she’s so comfortable on the ball. And I think that that’s the thing that she’s really got hold of in this league — if she can be very good on the ball and keep it for the team, she’ll end up getting those chances to pass the Hollywood ball in the end.”

When OL Reign host their semifinal match on November 14, all eyes may be on players like Megan Rapinoe or Eugenie Le Sommer, who finished the regular season with an assist and a brace, respectively. But the Reign’s opponent that afternoon — which will either be North Carolina or Washington — better not sleep on Marozsán, because it’s possible we haven’t seen the best of the German midfielder yet.