The National Women's Soccer League will welcome two European internationals to OL Reign. French international goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and German international midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán will join OL Reign on loan from parent club Olympique Lyonnais, the NWSL club announced on Monday.
In January 2020, the OL Group that owns Lyon bought the Pacific Northwest's Reign FC, but the history between the clubs precedes that. Prior to the new partnership between the two teams, Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock spent time with Lyon during their 2018/2019 UEFA Women's Champions League campaign, winning the club's sixth title. Current OL Reign strikers Bethany Balcer and Sofia Huerta spent their 2020 offseasons in France as training squad players with Lyon after the 2020 Fall Series.
The international duo of Bouhaddi and Marozsan had long been rumored to join the Tacoma, Wash., side during the offseason, and they depart Lyon after the team was eliminated from UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinals in a massive upset Sunday by French rivals Paris Saint-Germain. The two players have accumulated massive amounts of hardware over their careers internationally and with Lyon.
Bouhaddi, 34, has spent 12 seasons with Lyon and is reigning Best FIFA Goalkeeper. She has been part of all seven of Lyon's UWCL titles, including the last five consecutive campaigns. The Cannes, France, native has also won the Division 1 Féminine 11 times and the Coupe de France Féminine trophy eight times.
"Since I was a little child, I have watched the US national team," Bouhaddi said in a news release. "They are way ahead of what is happening in Europe. The American league and the fans have made me dream about playing in the U.S., but I didn't come just to have a dream -- I came to learn, to discover a new experience, and above all, to win as many matches as possible and win the championship.
"Today my priority is Olympique Lyonnais and the goals we have set together. But in June, I will invest everything into this new experience with a lot of passion and excitement."
IT’S HAPPENING! @OLfeminin legends, Sara Bouhaddi and Dzsenifer Marozsan have signed with OL Reign on loan for the 2021 season.— OL Reign (@OLReign) April 19, 2021
Read more: https://t.co/gjRlubgfmB pic.twitter.com/pgl8m3Eg4d
Marozsan is a native of Budapest, Hungary, who moved to Germany as a child. She has played with the German national team since 2010 and won the 2013 Euros with Germany and an Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 28-year-old earned her first Champions League medal with FFC Frankfurt in during the 2014/2015, before joining Lyon for the 2016/17 season. In her nearly five seasons with OL, she has won Division 1 Féminine four times, won the Coupe de France Féminine trophy three times and has won the UWCL four times.
"I know many players who played in the U.S., and they told me about a lot of positive experiences, which got me excited to play there as well," Marozsán said in the news release. "I am always eager to improve myself, and in my opinion, I can learn a lot of the U.S. style of the game and the mentality. I also want to win everything we can in this season."
What will they bring to OL Reign?
Marozsan will have provide an immediate impact for OL Reign in their midfield. The savvy veteran can slot in as defensive mid and immediately strengthen the teams spine on the pitch, linking up play from the back to the top line. Her inclusion could also push Costa Rican international Shirley Cruz higher on the pitch if needed for added play making between the two veteran midfielders.
Bouhaddi will provide another goalkeeping option for the Reign after Casey Murphy was traded to North Carolina Courage. The immediate answer appeared to be Karen Bardsley, who is on loan with OL Reign from Manchester City till the end of June.
The two players will join OL Reign at the conclusion of the Lyon's 2020-21 season and run through December 2021. The NWSL regular season will begin on May 15.
OL Reign have kicked off their Challenge Cup tournament last week with a scoreless draw against Houston Dash. They will face their Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Thorns FC on April 21.