After a stuttering start to their home match against Racing Louisville FC, OL Reign found the two goals they needed to win the match. A brace from Eugénie Le Sommer proved to be enough to gain all three points for the hosts and the first goal in particular, was worth the price of admission alone.
Racing Louisville had found a way to test the Reign midfield and although they couldn’t test Sarah Bouhaddi, they were slowly but surely gaining a foothold in the game after 20 minutes. OL Reign had had an earlier chance fall to Le Sommer that she had volleyed straight into Michelle Betos’ arms but apart from that, they could not find their way to goal. It seemed as though this would be another Reign match that their star players just could not come together often enough to get the win.
Eugénie Le Sommer had other ideas.
The front three of OL Reign, Le Sommer, Tziarra King and Sofia Huerta, began to rotate in amongst the Louisville backline and it created the space that a player like Le Sommer could exploit.
After losing the ball in midfield, thanks to a Dani Weatherholt step in to win the ball, Louisville were left a little exposed. Dzsenifer Maroszan picked the ball and quickly switched it out wide to Le Sommer who had drifted to the left and now was one-on-one with Erin Simon. Eugénie Le Sommer didn’t waste any time and proceeded to drive towards goal, backing Simon up all the way. Simon figured she had tied down the French forward enough for the rest of her teammates to recover and thus provide cover for her should Le Sommer find a way past her. This would be something that Simon would quickly realise that she should never let happen again.
Once Le Sommer got to the edge of the area, she didn’t slow down. Instead, she chopped left and then chopped right, creating just enough space to get her shot off and thus, giving OL Reign the lead.
It's goal No. 1 in a Reign uniform for Eugenie Le Sommer!— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 1, 2021
The home team takes the lead! #RGNvLOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/goMjG1rnU1
This is where we need to pause for a second and break down exactly what happened here.
Le Sommer first drags Simon out wide once she realised that her team has won the ball again, isolating the Louisville defender and knowing that she has enough quality to beat Simon, whether it be in a foot race or with pure skill alone.
She then drives forward quickly, knowing that in transition, you can’t waste any time and if none of your teammates have caught up to you, keeping the defense unbalanced will give either yourself or a late run from a teammate a chance on goal.
Now THIS is where we see Eugénie Le Sommer, “p’tit génie” aka the Little Genius, shine and show exactly why anyone who has watched her in Europe regards her as one of the best forwards around. Erin Simon thinks she has the OL Reign striker bottled up and knows that at least Gemma Bonner is behind her, providing cover if needed. She then proceeds to try and step to Le Sommer but Le Sommer is ready for that and prepared to take advantage of that.
In less than five seconds, Le Sommer has not only found her way past Simon, leaving the Racing Louisville defender on the ground, but she has also created a gap for her to take a shot on goal.
This moment becomes even more impressive when you see Le Sommer finish off the attack with a bending effort on goal that beats Betos and finds the far corner.
Eugénie Le Sommer snatched Erin Simon’s soul in front of everyone in Tacoma and anyone watching the global broadcast. She then proceeded to rub salt into the wound by scoring a fantastic goal that curved past Bonner, past Betos and into the net. As a lot of people stated once viewing the gif of the goal through various social media platforms, if I was in Simon’s position after that, I would’ve faked an injury and asked to be subbed off. Such was the level of sauce displayed by Le Sommer at the expense of Erin Simon.
Le Sommer wasn’t done yet and once she had gotten that first goal in the NWSL out of the way, her second goal showed just how quickly the confidence was flowing in her once again. Another quick transition allowed OL Reign to be in a two-on-one situation with Jess Fishlock on the ball and Le Sommer in space with only Bonner and Betos to beat. She had the pace to race away from Bonner but it was the finish that exemplified how confident in herself Le Sommer was once again. In a previous match, Le Sommer had been one-on-one with the goalkeeper and failed to make it count. This time around, she made no mistake.
She settled the ball with a few touches and then proceeded to take one smaller touch to make Betos dive down before dinking the ball over the falling Louisville goalkeeper.
It's Le Sommer's world, we're all just living in it #RGNvLOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/jtGYHjREuh— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 1, 2021
It may not have been as spectacular as the first goal but this second was almost as impressive because of the presence of mind that Le Sommer was now in. She showed that previously with the first goal after essentially clowning Simon and then finishing acutely past Betos, and now she had enough composure to make Betos dive first and then proceed to put the ball past her without skipping a beat.
The rest of the game wore on and although Le Sommer did not get a third, she was still posing a genuine threat every time she got the ball. She also put in a tremendous shift defensively as she helped out the rest of her team to secure another three points. With so many younger players in and around her in Tacoma, Eugénie Le Sommer is a great example of what a true world class forward can do for their team. She not only will put in the work defensively but when you need her to, she can score almost any type of goal from any angle. If OL Reign are to not only make the playoffs but make a run for a NWSL Championship, they will need Le Sommer to keep scoring goals. As she showed this past weekend against Louisville, she can win games for you in a blink of an eye.