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NWSL: Mallory Pugh debuts in Spirit 0-1 loss

Mallory Pugh is officially a member of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The United States Women’s National Team forward turned heads last week by announcing that she would not return to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Instead, Pugh has elected to turn professional, making her the first player in the NWSL to come straight from high school (since she did not record a cap at UCLA) and into the league. Pugh is only 19-years-old.

See what Pugh, and all the other teams in the NWSL did this weekend.

Boston Breakers 2-2 Portland Thorns: Nadia Nadim continues to add to her scoring tally for the Portland Thorns FC.

Nadim was the reason that the Thorns split the three points with the Boston Breakers. Nadim scored two goals against the Boston Breakers in the 57’ and 83’ minutes. Nadim’s first goal was scored off a penalty kick while her second was assisted by Hayley Raso. For Boston, their two goals were scored by Natasha Dowie (38’) and Rosie White (48’).

As for misconduct, Angela Salem received the only yellow card for the Breakers in the 90’ minute. Meanwhile, the Thorns had two yellow cards shown to Mallory Weber (68’) and Meghan Cox (68’).

“It was frustrating. We were in complete control of the game,” said Boston Breakers head coach Matt Beard. “We created enough changes to win two games tonight. It’s so frustrating on my end because I think we should’ve got three points last week and three points tonight. But credit to Portland. They kept going.”

Houston Dash 1-2 Sky Blue FC: Lifetime TV’s game of the week occurred in New Jersey when Sky Blue FC, the No. 2 team in the league, defeated the Houston Dash, who sit at No. 9.

It was a late effort from Raquel Rodriguez which notched three points for the home side. Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal in the 85’ minute. The first point of the match for Sky Blue came in the 20’ minute, off a converted Sarah Killion penalty kick. Meanwhile for the Dash, Andressinha scored their lone goal in the 40’ minute.

“We have been stressing the importance of establishing a winning culture at home,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We want to make Yurcak Field a very difficult place for our opponents to come play. With the attitude and ability that this team compiles together, we are very excited about what we can do over the remainder of the season for our fans.”

Each side had one yellow card shown to a select player. For the Dash, Cami Privett received her yellow card in the 84’ minute. Shortly after, Madison Tiernan received Sky Blue’s yellow card in the 89’ minute.

Washington Spirit 0-1 FC Kansas City: Mallory Pugh’s entrance into the NWSL was in typical Washington Spirit fashion. There was a warm audience, which greeted Pugh and her teammates with cheers. However, the visitors won, with FC Kansas City taking all three points.

Pugh didn’t start the match, but made her way on the pitch in the 55’ minute to replace Arielle Ship, a fellow rookie in the league.

However, the lone goal of the match came from a different forward on a different team. Alexa Newfield scored the lone goal in the 39’ minute, which was off an assist from Sydney Leroux. For FC Kansas City, the win is the first on the road this NWSL season.

“There’s always room for improvement,” said Pugh. “This game was really to get the nerves and jitters out… It’s super special, just all the support. I was one of those little girls screaming names before, so I think it’s just really cool.”

Just like the Dash vs. Sky Blue FC match, there was one yellow card shown to each side. FC Kansas City’s Becky Sauerbrunn received the first yellow card in the 84’ minute while Washington’s Francisca Ordega received her yellow card in the 84’ minute.

North Carolina Courage 1-3 Chicago Red Stars: Despite two straight losses, the North Carolina Courage still remain at the top of the NWSL standings.

The Courage lost their undefeated title against the Orlando Pride last weekend, the Courage fell, by the same score of the Pride match, to the Chicago Red Stars, 1-3. For the Courage, their lone goal from Lynn Williams, assisted by Jaelene Hinkle, in the 55’ minute wasn’t enough.

The Red Stars had their three goals scored by Christen Press (30’), Sofia Huerta (37’) and Vanessa DiBernardo (45’). Press’ goal was a converted penalty kick, as she also notched the assist on Huerta’s goal. DiBernardo’s goal was unassisted.

“I feel like this was a really good turning point for us,” Press said “ In the beginning of the year, people like to hype things up, like your offense isn’t producing, etc. Internally, we know what’s going on and what the group needs to build on to become the team we want to be at the end of the season.”

As for cautionary cards, the Courage kept a clean match, receiving no yellow or red cards. Meanwhile, the Red Stars had two yellow cards shown to Casey Short (75’) and Julie Ertz (90’+).

“You could always say it was mistake,” Courage head coach Paul Riley said. “We didn’t play well in the first half, and the back three got pulled all over the place in the first half. I thought the midfield was poor in the first half; second half, I thought they were good. We’ve done Jess in the back in preseason, so it’s not new to us. Obviously, [Erceg] was a big loss for us back there. Whether we play three or four in the back, we still have to be good enough.”

Seattle Reign 1-1 Orlando Pride: Marta does it again for the Orlando Pride, but once again, the club doesn’t notch all three points.

Marta’s goal in the 52’ minute, which was assisted by fellow Brazilian international Camila, was the equalizer for the Pride. The Reign took the lead first in the 40’ minute, with Beverly Yanez scoring off a Rachel Corsie assist.

“I’m in the box and I’m like ‘get something on it, get it on frame’ because you never know what can happen,” said Yanez. “Rachel [Corsie] got something on it and I was lucky to be in a good spot to finish it.”

“I thought we did some good stuff at times, and everything Orlando had in terms of chances came from us giving the ball away and that’s something we have to address,” said Seattle FC head coach Laura Harvey. “We’ve got to get back to learning how to win games 1-nil, because tonight’s a game we should have won 1-nil. I don’t think we were ruthless enough in their box. We had a lot of set piece opportunities and some passages of play where we could have been better up there.”

However, the biggest loss for the Pride was not the three points, but goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. The U.S. Women’s National Team keeper, and Pride team captain, went down in the 26’ minute with a hip injury and was forced to be replaced by Caroline Stanley. The captain’s armband was then handed over to defender Ali Krieger, who joined the club this year.

“We’re delighted to come [to Seattle] and come away with a point. [Memorial Stadium] is a bit of a fortress and Seattle have a great habit of scoring many goals so to come away with a 1-1 draw is a great result for us,” Pride head coach Tom Sermanni said.  “We had to hang on tight for the last 25 minutes but I thought we had great momentum at the start of the second half. I thought we defended valiantly and really toughed out the game.”

Two yellow cards were shown to each side, with Orlando’s yellow cards going to the Brazilians Camila (83’) and Marta (90’+3’). For the Reign, Lauren Barnes (49’) and Megan Rapinoe (50’) were the yellow card recipients.


Photo of Mallory Pugh courtesy of Brad Smith/ISI Images.

Follow @RachaelMcKriger on Twitter for all NWSL coverage.

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Rachael McKriger
Sports Journalist

Rachael McKriger writes for RSEN Report (Lead Editor), Pittsburgh Sports Castle (Content Editor), Mon Goals and W2M Network, in addition to being a sports stringer/reporter for the Mon Valley Independent newspaper.

A senior of California Univ. of Pennsylvania, you can follow her on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, where you can find all of her articles. Search “McKriger Photography” on Facebook, to see her photos.

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