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

Mallory Pugh beats her defender during the second half against England. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)
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.)

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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.

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