OL Reign’s Jess Fishlock named 2021 NWSL Most Valuable Player

With the National Women’s Soccer League championship game just days away on CBS, the league has started handing out end-of-year awards. On Tuesday, OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock was named the 2021 NWSL Most Valuable Player. 

The list of finalists was decided after a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. Fishlock was one of five finalists for the award along with Angela Salem (Portland Thorns FC), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Ashely Hatch (Washington Spirit), and Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC). 

Pugh earned second place in the voting, followed by Purce, Hatch and Salem. The list of finalists was determined by a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. The finalists were then voted on by fans (10%), owners, general managers, coaches (20%), media (20%), and players (50%).

The Welsh International has been with the Reign franchise since the inaugural season and has won two NWSL shields and made three semifinals over that span. The longtime midfielder made 24 appearances (22 starts) in 2021 with scored five goals and four assists to her name. Her efforts on the pitch provided different attacking looks and her ability to win the ball in the middle of the park helped spearhead the attack as she averaged 4.7 passes into the penalty area per 90 minutes, second in the league behind Thorn’s Meghan Klingenberg. 

Let’s take a look at some of Fishlock’s best highlights in 2021:

Creating shots from distance 

Fishlock generated a number of highlight worthy goals this year.  She was impressive in producing during a stretch at the start of the season where the team was struggling, losing five of the first eight games. 

A leader on and off the pitch

Her leadership perhaps stood out the most for the team on and off the pitch. The team went through a mid-season coaching change and struggled to sting together wins. In July, the arrival of eventual 2021 NWSL Coach of the Year Laura Harvey helped provide a spark.

Toward the end of the season as the club was still in the hunt for the 2021 NWSL shield and trying to lock up a first-round playoff bye straight to the semifinals, Fishlock still produced for the team in front of goal. 

Remaining awards

The league has two remaining individual awards to announce throughout the remainder of the week: Rookie of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year. Awards are expected to roll out in the build-up to the NWSL Championship on Nov. 20 on CBS

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