OL Reign’s Balcer and Fishlock named to July Best XI of the Month

The National Women’s Soccer League announced today the 11 players named to the Best XI of the Month, presented by Mastercard, for the month of July by the NWSL Media Association.

Headlined by July Player of the Month Ebony Salmon, six teams are represented in the league’s top 11, including the Kansas City Current with four players, Portland Thorns FC with three selections, OL Reign with two and the Houston Dash and Racing Louisville FC each with one.

OL Reign forward Bethany Balcer and midfielder Jess Fishlock were selected for the Best XI in July.

Balcer played in three of OL Reign’s four matches through the month of July, contributing a total of 257 minutes to the Reign’s July campaign. The dynamic forward scored two goals in July and also added an assist. Currently ranked sixth in goal scorers across the league, Balcer has scored two header goals and two right-footed goals this season.

In July, Balcer opened her account with an assist against the Courage. She perfectly placed a ball at the feet of Jess Fishlock to take the lead in the match and then added a goal of her own to secure a 2-0 win for the Reign. The forward scored again in OL Reign’s next game, coming up big with a game-tying goal against their biggest rivals, Portland Thorns FC.

Fishlock played in all four of OL Reign’s matches in July and played a full-90 twice. Like Balcer, she also scored two goals and added one assist for the Reign. The reigning NWSL MVP started her month with a bang, scoring the opening goal in OL Reign’s 2-0 win over the Courage and then earning an assist on Balcer’s goal later in the match. She put in two solid shifts against Portland and Kansas City before scoring again, this time against Angel City. Fishlock scored OL Reign’s first goal of the match, starting what would become an epic 3-2 comeback win for the Reign.

The reliable midfielder has a tackle success rate of over 70%, dominating the middle of the field. She has connected nearly 350 successful passes, including 26 key passes and boasts a 78% success rate when it comes to passing. Additionally, the 35-year-old finished with the third-most shots during the month of July with 11.

 

NWSL JULY TEAM OF THE MONTH PRESENTED BY MASTERCARD:


GK – Adrianna Franch (KC): Franch registered two clean sheets and 14 stops throughout the month of July. The veteran goalkeeper, who is approaching the 10,000 minute mark in regular season appearances, currently sits in fourth in save percentage and third in saves among goalkeepers who have played more than three games.

 
D – Kristen Edmonds (KC): Edmonds continued to successfully challenge more than half of all tackles, duels and aerial duels, helping her team to an undefeated month of play which saw the Current concede just three goals.

 
D – Kelli Hubly (POR): Appearing in every game for the Thorns this month, Hubly was a reliable presence on the Portland backline, completing more than 80 percent of total passes, and 90 percent of feeds out of the defensive half. Hubly is also one of 12 ironwomen to play every minute of action this season.

 
D – Hailie Mace (KC): Mace provided heroics for the Current on two separate occasions throughout the month, tallying the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Houston on July 1 and contributing a crucial assist in Kansas City’s 2-2 tie against Orlando at the end of the month.

 

D – Carson Pickett (NCC): Fresh off her first cap with the U.S. Women’s National Team, Pickett built off that momentum when she returned to the Courage, scoring her first goal of the regular season in a 2-2 tie against the Chicago Red Stars. The defender also continued her reliable distribution out of the defensive end with an 85 percent clip.


M – Jess Fishlock (RGN): The reigning league MVP made a splash this month, tallying a pair of goals and an assist to keep OL Reign in the top half of the table. The midfielder scored the game-winning goal in the Reign’s 2-0 win over North Carolina before kick-starting the team’s 3-2 comeback victory over Angel City FC with a goal in the 54th minute.

 
M – Lo’eau LaBonta (KC): A veteran midfielder, LaBonta shined for the Current throughout the month, scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 victory over Houston and notching the lone tally in a 1-0 win over OL Reign. She also registered the game-tying assist in Kansas City’s 2-2 comeback draw against the Pride to help her team to an undefeated month of play.

 
M – Hina Sugita (POR): Sugita doubled her goal tally with a pair of crucial goals for the Thorns this month, first scoring the go-ahead goal in Portland’s rivalry match against OL Reign before notching the game-winning goal in the team’s 2-1 win over Racing.

 
F – Bethany Balcer (RGN): Currently sixth among goal scorers in the NWSL, Balcer added to her scoring haul with goals in back-to-back matches in July. The forward notched an insurance goal in OL Reign’s 2-0 win over the Courage, before coming in clutch with the game-tying goal in a 2-2 draw against west coast rival Portland.  

 
F – Ebony Salmon (HOU): The July Player of the Month, Salmon became the youngest player in NWSL history to record a hat trick with a trio of goals in the Dash’s 4-1 rout of the Chicago Red Stars. The forward also notched a goal in Houston’s 4-2 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC to round out a highly productive first month with her new team.

 
F – Morgan Weaver (POR): Weaver was an effective piece of the Portland offense this month, getting on the scoresheet in back-to-back contests, including the Thorns’ 5-0 win over Gotham FC and the team’s 2-1 win over Racing.
 

In 2021, Mastercard and the NWSL unveiled the inaugural Best XI Platform with the First Team and Second Team honors awarded for the 2021 season to the league’s 22 top players. Mastercard’s belief that our world is full of brilliant possibilities and their focus on connecting people to possibilities is fundamental to what Mastercard does. It’s what Priceless is all about – unlocking the potential in every person across all parts of their life. The development of the Best XI Platform is further commitment from Mastercard to connect NWSL fans to the league and athletes they love. 
 
The NWSL Team of the Month is selected each month of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of writers that cover the league on a consistent basis. 

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