OL Reign and its French connection could benefit the club, again.
Multiple media outlets in France report that striker Eugénie Le Sommer will join the Reign on a six-month loan beginning in June. Le Sommer is the all-time leading scorer for France’s national team (86 goals) and for her current club, Olympic Lyon (223 goals).
OL Groupe is the parent company of Lyon which purchased an 89.5% stake in the Reign in 2019.
Bill Predmore, a co-owner and CEO of the Reign, said Wednesday the U.S. side isn’t prepared to make any comments about player transactions aside from the club being in negotiations to sign some “really extraordinary players” within the upcoming month.
L’Equipe and Le Progres reported the loan deal involving Le Sommer. She signed an extension with OL through March 2023. According to a story published Wednesday in L’Equipe, and translated from French, she’s “motivated by the idea of living an adventure abroad since its inception” of the partnership with OL Reign.
Lyon finalized in April the loans of keeper Sarah Bouhaddi and midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán to the Reign. Bouhaddi, who’s also in goal for Les Bleues, is the reigning Best FIFA Goalkeeper. Marozsán, who suits up for Germany’s national team, helped Lyon win four of its 14 Division 1 Féminine championships.
The addition of Bouhaddi and Marozsán leave two international spots open on the Reign’s roster. Their arrival coincides with the conclusion of the D1F season.
The Reign previously permanently transferred forward Jodie Taylor to Lyon. Reign defender Celia Jimenez Delgado was on a six-month loan with the French side last fall.
“It’s not a free movement between the clubs,” Predmore said. “There are a bunch of complexities we need to address in the process, which is what we have been doing over the last few months to make these things happen.”
Le Sommer could add depth up top as the Reign prepares to lose forward Megan Rapinoe to a U.S. national team call-up for the Tokyo Olympics. The women’s soccer portion of the Summer Games is slated for July 21 through Aug. 6.
The Reign expects to also be without midfielder Quinn (Canada), keeper Karen Bardsley (Great Britain), and forward Nicole Momiki (Japan). France and Germany didn’t qualify for the Olympics.
“It will absolutely help during the Olympics and certainly fills some gaps,” Predmore said of Bouhaddi and Marozsán. “But really, it’s about increasing the overall quality of the squad with two world-class players.
“We’re trying to maybe put those final couple of pieces in place that’ll help us compete for a championship that has alluded us thus far. We feel like with, again, a couple of changes or additions that it might be enough to push us into that elite group of teams that have a credible shot at the championship.”
The Reign concluded the NWSL’s Challenge Cup tournament with a 2-1 win at Kansas City on Monday. The result helped the Reign (2-1-1) finish three points behind the Portland Thorns FC for the West Division title.
The Thorns will host NJ/NY Gotham FC at Providence Park for the Challenge Cup championship Saturday on CBS.
NWSL will kick off its regular season May 15. The Reign will play a 24-match schedule beginning with a rematch of the 2019 league semifinal against the North Carolina Courage. The latter scored three goals in extra time to advance with a 4-1 win and ultimately claim the 2019 NWSL championship.
The league didn’t hold a traditional season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It instead debuted the Challenge Cup and had its teams play a four-match Fall Series.
The Reign joined the now 10-team league in 2012 and has played for the title in 2014 and 2015 under former coach Laura Harvey.
“There’s a lot of work ahead to really get it all together,” Predmore said of meshing a star-studded roster into a title-contending team. “At the very least, it should be entertaining to fans to come out and watch.”