The NWSL took a pause over the last two weeks, as a number of players traveled around the world to represent their countries during a FIFA international break. Six OL Reign players reported for international duty, with two playing in high-stakes World Cup qualifiers.
Here’s a roundup of their performances.
UEFA’s qualification tournament for the 2023 World Cup kicked off last week, with Jess Fishlock and Dzsenifer Marozsan called in to represent Wales and Germany, respectively. Europe’s qualification process is a long one. Fifty-one teams are drawn into nine groups, and each group is played in a home-and-away format. The nine group winners automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the nine runners-up advance to a playoff to determine the two additional qualified teams and one inter-continental playoff entrant from UEFA.
Jess Fishlock’s Wales earned six points in their first two matches, defeating Kazakhstan 6-0 and earning a 1-0 win against Estonia. Fishlock had an assist in both matches, including this perfect ball that set up the lone goal against Estonia.
While she didn’t score, Fishlock earned an assist in the 54th minute and put in a dominant performance against Kazakhstan. And all six Wales goals are definitely worth watching. In an interview with BBC, Fishlock talked about how much confidence their new manager, Gemma Grainger, has given the squad — and it showed in their performance.
After two games, Wales now sits even on points with France — which didn’t call up Eugenie Le Sommer or Sarah Bouhaddi this round — at the top of the table in Group I. Fishlock and Wales will face Slovenia on the road and Estonia again at home during the next FIFA international window in October.
Dzsenifer Marozsán and Germany also earned a full six points from their pair of World Cup qualifiers. Germany came away with a comfortable 7-0 win against Bulgaria, with Marozsan earning an assist in the 24th minute and playing for 90 minutes.
While Germany went down early in their second game against Serbia, they calmly came back and walked away with a 4-1 win. Maro was on the field for 74 minutes in that match.
The six points put Germany at the top of Group H, with Portugal close behind them with four points. Marozsan and Germany will take on Israel twice — home and away — during the next FIFA international window in October.
Angelina and Brazil, ranked 7th in the world by FIFA, took on No. 35 Argentina in two friendly matches. Angelina earned the start and played a full 90 minutes in the first match — scoring her first career goal for Brazil in a 3-1 win.
GOL DE BRASIL | Otra vez marcó en línea la defensa de Argentina, Erika picó al vacío y Angelina sólo tuvo que empujarla al fondo de la red. 3-0 en Campinhas.#FUTBOLenDEPORTV I @Argentina pic.twitter.com/oJxhSBbKtZ— DEPORTV (@canaldeportv) September 17, 2021
Angelina again started for Brazil in their second match, going 70 minutes in their 4-1 win.
Shirley Cruz joined Costa Rica for two friendlies against Panama. While Costa Rica fell 2-1 in their opening match, Cruz started and earned an assist on the team’s lone goal. Las Ticas fared better in their second game of the series. Cruz again started and again earned an assist — playing 90 minutes in Costa Rica’s 3-2 win.
Rose Lavelle joined the U.S. for two games against Paraguay, including one in front of her hometown fans in Cincinnati. Lavelle went 60 minutes in the USWNT’s 9-0 win over Paraguay in their first match. And inspired by her hometown, it was in Cincinnati where she truly shined, with one goal and three assists within the first 15 minutes of play. She was subbed out after 70 minutes, after a huge contribution to an 8-0 win for the U.S.
Jimena López joined Mexico, who had just one friendly match scheduled. No. 28 ranked Mexico took on the No. 26 ranked Colombia at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Mexico earned a 2-0 win, although López did not feature in the match.
It was a busy few weeks for these six OL Reign players, but they should all be healthy and available for selection for the Reign’s weekend match against the Orlando Pride. While Laura Harvey may choose to rest some of these players due to intense travel demands, it is an important match for the squad — as Orlando currently sits in 4th place and is just four points behind the Reign. Tickets are still available for the game, which kicks off Sunday at Cheney Stadium at 4 PM PT.