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OL Reign’s Jess Fishlock wins NWSL MVP, Mal Pugh is runner-up

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OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock has been named the 2021 NWSL MVP.

It’s the first time Fishlock has been tabbed for the award, after returning to action for the first time since suffering an ACL and double meniscus tear in July 2019. Throughout the season, Fishlock played in 24 matches and totaled 1,880 minutes played — second most by any OL Reign player this year.

On top of her minutes logged, the midfielder scored five goals and notched four assists.

Additionally, her passing accuracy stood at 76.4 percent, with 47 passes across 23 games. Defensively, Fishlock was just as strong. She won 63 percent of tackles while providing 13 clearances and 21 interceptions through the season. In October, she earned Save of the Week honors following a goal line clearance during an October 16 game against the Washington Spirit.

She becomes the second Reign player to win NWSL MVP after Kim Little won the award in 2014.

“If you speak to most people around the league and ask the coaches if they could take one player from our team, it would always be [Jess],” said OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey, who was recently named 2021 NWSL Coach of the Year. “I think that’s just a compliment of what she’s always brought to this team. The journey that she’s been on to get to this point has been phenomenal. I’m glad that she’s getting some recognition that she deserves.”

Chicago’s Mallory Pugh finished second in voting while NJ/NY Gotham FC’s Midge Purce was third followed by Washington’s Ashley Hatch and Portland’s Angela Salem.