National Women's Soccer League
National Team Pals Chime in on Mallory Pugh Decision
May 16, 2017
ON SATURDAY the Washington Spirit announced the acquisition of 19-year-old United States women’s national team attacker Mallory Pugh, less than one month after news broke that the youngster had decided to forego her college career with UCLA.
While the Spirit held the first position in the National Women’s Soccer League distribution order for that entire time, many speculated that Pugh and her representatives were working to engineer a trade to another team within the league. There was even talk that the midfielder might move abroad to avoid playing in Washington.
Following a mass exodus of talent from the Spirit after the 2016 season and reports of widespread player discontent with the team's ownership and management, many believed Pugh didn't want to play in Washington. In the past several weeks, several sources reported trade offers coming from the Portland Thorns, an area where Pugh has extended family.
Last week, NWSL managing director Amanda Duffy told American Soccer Now that the league was doing “all that we can” to keep Pugh in the league and later that week said the NWSL might also use their marketing agreements with Lifetime and Nike to convince the young starlet to play in the United States.
Ultimately, Pugh—who has earned 22 caps with the senior U.S. national team over the past year—ended up in Washington with a Nike endorsement deal announced only minutes after the Sprit made her acquisition public.
Over the past two weeks, various members of the U.S. women’s national team, Pugh’s international teammates, told ASN how they felt about her decision to skip the college game and head to the pro ranks.
JULIE ERTZ, who played with Pugh in the 2016 Olympics: “I’m all for her and her growth and development. Whatever she wants [that] to be and thinks is best for her, I’m all behind her.”
ROSE LAVELLE, who played with Pugh in the 2014 U-20 World Cup and more recently on the senior national team: “I would have loved to see her go and crush it in college, but she’s going to make an impact wherever she goes. She’s going to have such an awesome and incredible career ahead of her. I’m excited to see her debut. I think she’s going to do some really great things for Washington.”
MORGAN BRIAN, who played with Pugh in the 2016 Olympics: “I’ve talked to her on multiple occasions about [making that] decision before, when she wanted to go to college. She’s going to make the right decision for what she wants to do and that’s totally her business and her decision. For me, I’m a friend. I support her and want the best for her. We’re good friends and she’s a young person, so she’s going to make the right decision, hopefully.”
ALYSSA NAEHER, who played with Pugh in the 2016 Olympics: “Every player needs to make the decision that they think is best for themselves—and everybody is different. Everybody has their own path to wherever they need to get to, or want to get to. She made the decision that she felt was best for her and I hope that she does well with that and it works out.”
Pugh could make her debut for Washington as early as this Saturday in the Spirit’s home match against FC Kansas City.
What do you think of Pugh's decision—did she make the right move? Share your take in the Comments section below.
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.