The casual, often overlooked excellence of Dzsenifer Marozsán

It feels like an understatement at this point to say that OL Reign’s roster is overflowing with talent. The team is so stacked that, in September, head coach Laura Harvey was able to start a world-class midfield without Jess Fishlock and Olympic gold medalist Quinn, who were both resting due to congestion reasons.

After sitting in 9th place at the end of June, OL Reign turned things around and earned a semi-final home game for the play-offs – with the best record in the second half of the season. They even had a fighting chance to win the NWSL shield two weeks ago.

OL Reign fans are really seeing the positive results of being able to add Rose Lavelle, Eugenie Le Sommer, Dzsenifer Marozsán, Sarah Bouhaddi and Alana Cook to the roster this year. And while accolades have been shared for all of these newcomers, there is one player who may not get the recognition she fully deserves: Marozsán.

That’s because, to be honest, everything Marozsán does looks so damn easy. It’s not always flashy, but her casual genius in all aspects of the game – similar to former Reign player Kim Little – is what makes her so good.

Don’t be fooled by first impressions or the stat test. Marozsán often pulls the strings for the success of the government’s regime. That was especially true in the Reign’s last two games in September. Against the Orlando Pride, Marozsán scored two assists, including this ridiculous one-off pass to Le Sommer in the penalty area.

“I think it’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said after the game. “And that’s a big statement because I’ve seen some good goals from this team in recent years, but I think it’s the best goal I’ve ever seen live. Her pass to Euge[nie] was just genuinely ridiculous. Ridiculous.”

Photographer Nikita Taparia captured the perfect shot of Marozsan’s assist. The vision to see this piece is simply brilliant.
Nikita Taparia

Marozsán finished the game with four extra chances and 84% of her passes.

Although she was not on the scoresheet against Racing Louisville in early September, Marozsán’s impact in that road race was even more palpable. She finished with 95 touches, 62 accurate passes (83% pass) and six key passes. About half of that came in the offensive half of the Reign and she was 6 for 11 on long balls. On defense, Maro won 10 of her 11 games and had nine recoveries.

Pass card for Dzsenifer Marozsan (vs. Racing Louisville)

These two matches also point to Marozsán’s versatility. Against Louisville, she was asked to play deeper and defend more. The stats and pass card show that, as she had more touches and more defensive stats. When the Reign faced Pride in late September, Marozsán played as a reclusive forward who was allowed to go on the attack and stand where she pleased. Her free-roaming role overloads the Pride’s double-rotating midfield, leaving plenty of room for her midfield and attacking teammates.

“I think then you have the smart players like Jess and the smart players like Rose who work at Marsozán. And that gives us this fluidity that’s really hard to stop,” Harvey said after the game – before adding that it’s a pleasure to have a player like Marozsán who reads the game so well. “She’s not a player who really coaches you on the ball so honestly… I just asked her to do her defensive work and tell her to do what she wants when we have it. Like literally do whatever you want when we have it, I don’t care because she’s that good. She’s so good,” Harvey said.

That work on the defensive side was also evident in the Reign’s final game of the regular season, a Kansas City road game — a team that, despite being bottom of the table, hadn’t lost at home since June. Harvey let Marozsán, again playing a false number 9, dictate how and when the team continued.

“It was definitely the game plan – between the three Euge, Maro and Pinoe, that they dictated how we penetrated. And if Maro decided to jump, we pressed one way. If Pinoe or Euge decided to jump, we pressed another way. And I think if we do that, we pose a threat, and we’ve caused them a lot of trouble doing that today.”

That’s the part of Maro’s development with the Reign that Harvey is most proud of. She noted that Marozsán, Pinoe and Le Sommer all do things that amaze her. Some of their passes – done so casually – are plays that few in the league can make. But that’s not enough to get by in the NWSL.

“In this league it’s not enough. You have to do the other side of the game. And I thought Maro was brilliant at that tonight,” Harvey said after the final game of the regular season. “Run, hustle, compete. And then once you have to show quality, she showed it. I’m desperate for a goal from that girl because some of the things she does are phenomenal.”

Speaking of phenomenal, since her arrival in June, Marozsán has collected 46 key passes in 1393 minutes – good for about 3 every 90 minutes. According to FotMob, Marozsán is third in the league in key passes per game in a team that includes the likes of Sofia Huerta, Fishlock, Lavelle and Pinoe, who also make a lot of key passes themselves. She’s also won 61% of her tackles, 54% of her duels and 64% of her aerial duels – just in case you thought she was just an offensive threat.

For a player like Marozsán, however, statistics only tell a small part of the story. Unless you pay close attention to her during the game, you may not notice her move to create space for her teammates in midfield. Or her sense of where someone is going to run. Or her work to reposition herself to provide cover on the defensive side.

And the view from outside doesn’t matter much to a player like Maro, who has never been in the spotlight before. As Jess Fishlock said on Twitter in 2019 while watching a fight between Lyon and PSG: “Marozsán is just that good. She’s just so simple, so stylish, so effective.” Fishlock, who played with Maro in Lyon earlier that year and in Frankfurt in 2015, added to the praise: “She’s very capable of doing the remarkable things… But she’s not looking for that, she’s playing the game just for what it needs, when it needs it. She’s a dream.”

Rose Lavelle shared similar comments in a recent press conference. ‘She’s so good. She literally does not lose the ball. She makes every pass look good – every pass of hers is good. She is so much fun to play with and I feel like she reads your moves so well, she gets you the ball exactly where you want it, when you want it. She’s incredible.”

Lavelle’s face after the Reign’s third goal against perfecting Orlando captured this feeling and how she feels about Marozsán’s abilities. If you watch the climax of that goal again, you also see Lavelle running towards Maro in disbelief. She was all of us in that moment.

Nikita Taparia

Among the brilliant assists, however, there are more subtle examples of Marozsán’s grip on the game. Like when she takes the ball down with the softest touch and hits behind her under pressure, then calmly finds a teammate.

Or makes a perfect cross-field vertical pass that keeps her teammate going.

Or casually give Rapinoe a no-look pass for a hockey assistant.

These small moments sometimes make Marozsán’s performance difficult to judge. What might look like another player’s massive effort becomes Maro’s easiest pass. “What makes me laugh at Marozsán is that she doesn’t even look like she’s trying,” Harvey laughed after The Reign’s 3-0 of the Pride.

None of this surprises Harvey, however. “I’ve watched Marozsán play since she was 12. I saw her play when she was 12 for Germany Under-15 against England and then I knew she was going to be exceptional. She has been doing this since she was that age.”

The scary thing for other teams? Maro may not be at her peak yet. “She’s a very scary prospect because she’s so comfortable on the ball. And I think that’s what really gets her in this competition – if she can be really good on the ball and keep it for the team, she will they end up getting those chances to pass the Hollywood ball.”

When OL Reign hosts their semifinals on November 14, all eyes could be on players like Megan Rapinoe or Eugenie Le Sommer, who finished the regular season with an assist and a brace respectively. But the Reign’s opponent that afternoon – that will be North Carolina or Washington – better not sleep on Marozsán, as we may not have seen the best of the German midfielder yet.

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