Mallory Pugh signs with U.S. Soccer, play for Spirit

The Equalizer Staff May 13, 2017 70
Mallory Pugh beats her defender during the second half against England. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Mallory Pugh has signed with US Soccer and will join the Washington Spirit. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Saturday that it has signed Mallory Pugh to a national team contract which will include a subsidy to play in NWSL, as sources had previously confirmed to The Equalizer. Pugh will play for the Washington Spirit who exercised their option to claim her as a newly subsidized player. This marks the first time the Distribution Ranking Order (DRO) came into being that a team has used it on a player entering NWSL as a Federation Player.

The Spirit made two offseason trades to put themselves at the top of the DRO. First they sent Ali Krieger to the Orlando Pride in exchange for swapping spots, taking the No. 2 position and sending the Pride to No. 9. A later trade sent Megan Oyster to the Breakers in exchange for Kristie Mewis, Kassey Kallman and a swap into the No. 1 spot (draft picks also changed hands in that deal.)

{ALLISON’S FRIDAY FAVORITES: JoLo’s uncommon outlook on ACL recovery and the new NWSL goal queen}

Pugh, 19, dropped out of UCLA last month in order to pursue a professional career. She nearly made the same move in 2016 only to change her mind and enroll at UCLA. Another twist came last fall when U.S. Soccer demanded all players participating in the U-20 World Cup take a redshirt year. She wound up appearing in Spring games for the Bruins but never appeared in a regular season match.

The youngest American ever to score an Olympic goal, Pugh will be eligible to join the Spirit immediately. The Breakers now move to the top of the DRO while the Spirit fall to the bottom. At the conclusion of the NWSL Championship, the list resets to the reverse order of finish in the regular season.

Pugh is expected to join the Spirit on Monday and begin training with her new pro club on Tuesday. She could make her NWSL debut as early as next weekend, May 20, when the Spirit play hosts to FC Kansas City at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

  • Chive-on

    Ummm I thought she said she didn’t want to play there? Does she start playing right away or is this for next season?

    • Guest

      Her Nike/Adidas contract is worth a lot more if she’s stateside. She only committed to NWSL after meeting with sponsorship reps. I don’t see her being in DC long though.

      And I’d assume she’d be able to play right away too. USSF runs the league, fhey make the rules. Could wait until the June transfer window though but I don’t see it.

    • guest

      Goff tweeted that Mal will be on the Lifetime Pre-Show at 3:30 and will join the Spirit this week.

    • guest

      Where she didn’t want to play was a common narrative that clearly wasn’t really true. I guess you can’t believe everything that’s written or tweeted.

      • Breakers fan

        Or, it was true but she had a change of mind and heart after thinking about things for a while and talking to the Spirit. We don’t know the whole story here now but we may learn more about it.

        • Movement

          Pugh’s family thought it would be best for her to play for a more visible team, keeping her on a winning professional club that gets more exposure, in ultimately keeping her endorsement status prolonged for her career as long as possible. They’re not just considering an entry point in her contract and endorsement situation, but sustaining that for her career. Playing on a team like Portland would be perceived as having better odds in sustaining her “aura”.

          You don’t see Messi playing on the worst club teams, even a lower club team in a great league.

          • DNG

            A player like Messi being wasted in a terrible teams with no way out in an NWSL system is my worst nightmare. Won’t happen in the men’s game though.

          • Breakers fan

            That sounds believable. So why acquiesce to going to Washington if that was the dedicated, clear strategy? And, really, in a league of this stature in the American sports landscape, how much does it matter which club team you’re on? It’s the national team where real substantial exposure occurs for women soccer players, right? Not so much whether your club team is Portland or Washington. In other words, her situation is not comparable to Messi’s in any kind of significant way. Not enough people are watching the NWSL for it to matter much.

            Do you think the family still has an end goal of getting her to Portland? If so, do you think they’ll succeed and what would be the route to get her there?

          • mockmook

            Suspect she wanted Portland, but when she found she couldn’t roll Washington, she gave in to the inevitable (as opposed to going overseas)

          • Steglitz49

            Going overseas was never a realistic option. Her value to sponsors at present is in the US.

          • Breakers fan

            I look forward to the NWSL pre-game segment on her……which I will go look at now on my dvr!

            I suspect you’re right, but long-term…..wouldn’t her chances have been better to end up on Portland by going overseas for a year, though with that strategy she would have been forced to sit for a long while, I think. How hard is it for an allocated player to change teams? We can watch her case and see how it unfolds over the years.

          • mockmook

            Jeez, I agree with S49 — how embarrassing!!! πŸ™‚

            And, when she returned from overseas, she would still be subject to some sort of placement that would not guarantee Portland.

            I suppose how hard it is to move is subject to how stiff a spine the owner has — also, if they can get an offer that they feel is of fair value.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. It is wise to agree with Steg. S/he/it is frequently on the money and if not at worst a tangent.

          • Steglitz49

            The family’s hope is that she wins the 2019 world cup and before that the NWSL championship, not just the shield. That will up her sponsorship income.

            Then she can join a high paying European WoSo team like Alex, Kadeisha, Ashley, Carli and Crystal.

            Any fears of the ghost of Jennifer Capriati?

          • guest

            maximizing mallory pugh’s endorsement potential should not be the nwsl’s priority. pugh should get no more special treatment than any other player in the league. especially, considering every uswnt team she has been on has underperformed badly in world cup and olympic tournaments in which she was a leader.

    • mockmook

      Will play next game.

  • guest

    Equalizer “Staff” is going to be eating Crow for a while on this one. Lauletta was sill holding onto his narrative yesterday even after it was clear the real journo’s could see it coming a few days ago. Great job Equalizer.

  • kernel_thai

    Be interesting to find out why she left UCLA. Money hasn’t really changed. Maybe college food didn’t agree with her. : )

    • Rizuh

      Probably the college decision was based on heart and eventually was drowned out by head. It was never sustainable. WoSo careers are based in 4 year cycles, and you can’t play through two of them for free, no way.

      • mockmook

        I’d argue the opposite.

        Heart probably said turn pro.

        Head said: Must follow peers into college to be “normal.”

        • Steglitz49

          I am beginning to wonder whether she did not enjoy UCLA as much as she thought she would and that had she chosen another college, she would have been content?

          I don’t know Ms Pugh from Eve but maybe UVa, FSU or UNC might have been better fits?

          Margaret Purce has described how her father suggested to her that she should try for Harvard. Ms Purce had made up her mind on another college but her dad convinced her that she had the grade to make it worth giving Harvard a shot. By all accounts she loved it and it paid off for her.

          What is your view?

          • mockmook

            Unknowable — her experience in college is somewhat a crap shoot.

            Just think that her first instinct to go pro (before she chose UCLA) showed where her heart was.

          • Steglitz49

            You could argue that she may have gotten a deal between two stools.

            Ms Horan never went to college but she got a signing on bonus to cover (at least in part) future education expenses. She is in the NT and playing for Portland — and will always have Paris. She never had expectations on her shoulders.

            Ms Pugh has mega expectations to live up to. Bigger than anyone. Unlike Alex, Mallory has not had a dream start to her NT career. Rather the opposite.

            I expect Ms Pugh to do well but I doubt if she will excel though she will make a fair amount of money. Meanwhile, it is Alex and Carli and Kadeisha and Ashley who play on the big stages — and Jessie Fleming stays at UCLA till she graduates.

          • htm222

            Um, Margaret Purce isn’t exactly a shoe in for National Team and sponsor money and fame. Pugh is already a lock on the NT, and would be giving up potentially millions by finishing college now.

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken. Going to Harvard was a wise choice.

            I guess Crystal Dunn is (likely to be) the loser in this.

            Time will tell if Mallory can manage the expectations. Marta could, so why not Mal.

        • Kevin

          Her head probably said turn pro.

          Why risk 3 years of injuries playing at a lower level of competition with much less time to focus on soccer and get paid $0/year instead of over $100k?

  • Breakers fan

    I happily rescind all my earlier “prima donna”-esque comments about Mallory in this situation. Good for her for following league protocol and giving the Spirit a shot, a position they they gave up a good amount to be in. Will be fun to watch her in the NWSL. I wish her well.

    • mockmook

      Yes, very happy for Washington — very happy for the league.

    • Steglitz49

      She should have finished college once she started it. Lindsey Horan never went to college. Ms Horan was not wet.

    • Forgedias

      Yup, happy that Washington held their ground and didn’t give in. That national team contract means she will be with Washington for at least a while. She may not want to play there but so long as she is being paid by the USSF, she will at least have to stay there for awhile and that will be huge for the Spirit long term since they can rebuild the team back up again.

  • Alex

    Great news! So glad Washington held on and managed to get her to sign for them, would have been stupid to let Portland make a cheap trade for her.

    • Movement

      Portland was willing to give up quite a bit for her, as Pugh’s value is sky high.
      Washington would rather keep Pugh, if she was willing to go there.
      They almost had to trade her at one point.

      Ultimately, Washington feels that Pugh is the Michael Jordan of the sport.
      Why trade that away or pass over her, and if she’s willing to play for them.
      Don’t give her away, even for other good veteran players.

      In the NBA, the top rookies and young talent are always going to the worst teams (hence as a lottery draft pick going to the non-playoff teams). It’s probably best for this league for Lavelle to be in Boston, and Pugh to be in Washington, to help those teams out, and lean toward parity in this league, instead of having a limited few dominant teams, and increasing the gap in talent between the top teams and the bottom teams. Instead, shrink that gap in talent difference between the teams at the top & bottom.

      • guest

        let’s get real. portland had no intention of giving fair market value in any mallory pugh trade. by all accounts, they wanted to dump klingenberg in the trade and include role players.

        • DNG

          That’s what Pugh is currently worth in my opinion. Not Horan, Heath, Sinclair, Long, or Henry.

  • Movement

    So if Andi Sullivan is not in the draft, and gets allocated, then she becomes a Boston Breaker for 2018. If she is in the draft, then she goes to an expansion team. If there is no expansion in 2018, then Sullivan goes to the Washington Spirit or Orlando Pride (who’s midfield is weak and could use Sullivan more than any other team right now).

    • JL

      It would be Washington or Portland, since the Thorns acquired Orlando’s 1st round pick.

      • Movement

        Oh yeah, forgot that trade. Orlando better hope Rachel Hill becomes an all-star type of player in this league. Otherwise, that looks like a stupid trade.

    • mockmook

      Nope. She will be allocated (if allocated) to the team that finishes last in 2017 — the list is reset after this season.

    • Oh, I forgot about expansion. Must consult the ever-changing NWSL rulebook to see if both expansion clubs get first picks over the last place 2017 team.

      When there are 2 expansion teams in a year do they flip a coin to see who gets the higher pick?

  • Movement

    This is why professional sports are better in American than in Europe.
    In Europe, the rich always get richer, and the poor teams always suffer.
    The younger phenom players always go to the better teams.

    But in American professional sports, the teams at the bottom of the table in their respective sport have a better chance to rebuild than the bottom-feeder European teams in their respective sport. American gives you more hope to turn things around. The American Dream exists for everyone, even the worst team in the league.

    In Europe, you don’t get that.

    • Rizuh

      On the other hand, in Europe a team is a team. In America it is a corporate entertainment product ready to move to a more profitable venue at a moment’s notice so the billionaire owner can make a few more bucks. For example, I hope the fans of the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and St Louis Rams find something to do with their now useless jerseys. Maybe good paint clothes.

      • guest

        american sports team support isn’t just local. some teams enjoy national support. the dallas cowboys have fans all over the country.

        • Kevin

          Same with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. A lot of the Raiders fans loved the move, just not the ones in Oakland.

        • guest

          one other positive change is that more and more the us taxpayers aren’t been required to pay for the entire new sports venue as us sports owners are paying a % of the cost.

      • Kevin

        Most of the teams that move aren’t the successful teams, but the struggling teams.

        Not sure it’s much different when you consider relegation.

        How would you like to be a Blackburn Rovers fan?

        β€’ Premiere League Champions in 1994-95
        β€’ Relegated to Division One in 2000-01
        β€’ Promoted to Premiere League 2002-03
        β€’ Relegated to Championship in 2011-12
        β€’ Relegated to League One in 2016-17

        The didn’t move, but they’re two leagues below the Premiere League now.

        • Steglitz49

          The US does not do relegation/promotion, so your point seems moot.

          A good WoSo example is the once mighty UmeΓ₯. Relegated last season. Hard to believe but a fact nevertheless.

          • Kevin

            I never said they did.

            The post I was responding to was comparing American professional sports to European.

            Try to keep up!

          • Steglitz49

            As far as I can tell, men’s soccer is the big team sport in Europe and its health varies from nation to nation. The European soccer leagues employ promotion/relegation.

            How healthy other team sports like (ice)hockey, rugby, basket and volley ball are, I ken not. Judging by how many top European players dream of and play in the NHL, the NHL is where the true money and glory is. Likewise the NBA.

            Sports like cross-country skiing and biathlon (=ski-shooting) are heavily dependent on German sponsors and therefore on German performers doing well. Alpine skiing is a bit more diversified than those two. Those sports are not team sports.

            Golf and tennis seem on par but Europe relies more on status such as Wimbledon and the Open while America has the prize money. It is the LPGA, not the WPGA, for what it is worth.

      • Patriciaaschmidt


        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sf187c:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
        !sf187c:
        ➽➽
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs477NetworkVoiceGetPaid$97/Hour β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«β˜…β˜…β˜…βœ«::::::!sf187c:….,…..

  • mockmook

    Wagner: Sun’s out, guns out… πŸ™‚

  • MALLORY PUGH IS GOING TO PLAY FOR THE SPIRIT HECK YES

  • guest

    this should be a lesson to all the other nwsl teams before accepting some low-ball trade offer from the portland thorns. gotta be willing to play hard ball and call out bluffs. like teams in other real american sports leagues. good job washington.

    • Tania

      Don’t think it had much to do with the Spirit playing hardball. My guess is she absolutely WAS intending to go to Portland, and USSF was preparing to push things to get here there. The backlash around it was stronger than expected, even maybe to the point that Nike was getting cold feet. So they decided they better back off and have her play in Washington for a little while. I’d lay odds it wont’ be for long.

      And I want to see her playing in the 10 role. Time to phase out Carli Lloyd. Play her at the 10 for the Spirit, so Jill will wake up & realize it.

      • gues

        i have no doubt about pugh and the ussf wanting to get her to portland. but washingon wasn’t going to play along. the ussf risked exposing the nwsl as a fake league if they tried to strong-arm washington into making a trade they did not want to do. this is just another example of rule changes and trades grossly favoring portland. with the american public becoming more aware of this it now could possibly risk nwsl future attendance and tv ratings which the ussf does not want. no doubt if there was no public criticism the ussf and nwsl would quietly have forced the move.

        • guest

          it is very clear at this point by ussf and nwsl actions that the portland thorns are too big to fail

          • Tania

            Agreed. I’d go so far as to say that Portland not failing is the number one priority, the success of all the MLS affiliated franchises is vital. And they value Seattle a great deal because although it’s not owned by the same group that owns the NWSL’s Sounders, that Portland/Seattle rivalry is currently the only strong, established one in the league.

          • Steglitz49

            I put it to you that you are living in La-La-Land.

        • Tania

          Exactly. I’d bet good money on that. And I also agree with the poster below me that the league considers it vital that Portland continue to be a successful franchise.

          • Steglitz49

            The good burghers of Portland seem to be the only ones who truly enjoy WoSo. Granted they much prefer BroSo but they do not disdain WoSo.

            DC seems to have lost their loyal fans. It is important to plug that hemorrhage. This is what USSF are doing. NC in contrast seem to be doing OK.

            As for the two MLS-expansion franchises, it is too early to tell. Morgan is still in France but till she returns we can assess the Marta-effect. As for Houston, Carli scored (again) at Wembley but when she turns up in Houston I have not the foggiest.

      • DNG

        Pugh is not a 10. At least not right now. Maybe never.

        • Tania

          I dunno…. enough people have suggested it that I want to see it. I sure as heck don’t like her on the wing.

          • sudeep das

            So at last a few who agrees with my views. I’ve posted about a year back that she is wasted down the wings. A natural #10 she should be given ownership of the USWNT as soon as the seniors retire after the next WC/Oly cycle.

          • Steglitz49

            That is 3 years from now and 4 if you mean 2021. In that time Ms Pugh ought to have developed considerably.

            Make no mistake. Pugh leaving UCLA is all about cashing in and who can blame her family because if all goes well she will by the standards of women in sports be comfortably well off by 30.

            I take a different view. I contend that she should have completed college having started it. The risk of injury in WoSo is high. Not all are lucky, like ARod, that it comes at the end of a successful career both on and off the pitch.

            Let’s trust that all goes well and the sun shines on Ms Pugh. Last time the US did not get gold in the OG, they went through a rough patch. Some say it lasted 15 years while the more generous would say 11. That is Ms Pugh’s likely playing career.

          • Rizuh

            Wont she be making 6 figures a year just for showing up? One year of that will pay for any future education needs. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Mal comes out behind from going pro. Maybe if she has a total career ending injury in the next 6 months I suppose.

          • Steglitz49

            Your point is well taken.

            She might contemplate Kim Kulig as well as ARod.

          • sudeep das

            Like you I totally agree with her decision to skip college to earn the money.
            She had already taken a knock on her ankles against a tough New Zealand side in the Rio Olympics. I think she played the U20 WWC with a niggle in her ankles.
            So no harm in cashing on her image right now to at least cover her future medical expenses.
            Ankles permitting she should reach her potential by 2019/20 and hopefully help US earn the elusive double of a WWC and an Oly gold.

          • #1Fan

            Natural in what way please? What has she shown us that screams #10?

          • Steglitz49

            Nothing.

            The way the USWNT plays, they don’t use a playmaker, the way some teams do. Sometimes the playmaker is not in the #10 shirt — such as Bobby Moore and the Kaiser — and sometimes they are.

            The #10 shirt became coveted because of a combination of that in position specific numbering it belonged to the inside left which was considered the most difficult position to play, and that certain giants of the game wore the #10 in those specific days, the most famous today being PelΓ© but before him Gren played in it and sometimes Liedholm.

          • Tania

            I’m ready for Carli Lloyd to be show the door now, thanks.

          • sudeep das

            Lloyd will probably stick around to the next cycle if injury free