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Opinion: Mallory Pugh should go to Washington

Mallory Pugh.

So young. So ambitious. And evidently, so very demanding.

Pugh, who is 19-years-old, has announced that she is leaving the University of California, Los Angeles, to pursue a professional football career.

Pugh never had a “freshman year” at UCLA, declining to head to the school due to commitments to the United States Women’s National Team. Pugh headed to the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, and then the 2016 U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

For the senior USWNT, Pugh holds 22 caps and four goals to her name. That name has spread like wildfire throughout the domestic National Women’s Soccer League in the United States and even abroad.

Abroad might just be where Pugh heads. According to the NWSL, the Washington Spirit has the allocation rights to Pugh, if she would decide to go to the NWSL. However, Pugh has been outspoken in the fact that she wants to go to the Portland Thorns FC.

There’s no way that Washington would deal her to Portland. Washington is struggling, as they only won their first NWSL match this past weekend (against Sky Blue FC). Pugh would be the attacker that the club needs.

However, Pugh doesn’t seem interested in going to the Spirit. Instead, she’s shopping around Europe, with French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyonnais being names that have popped up. Lyon is especially interesting, due to their acquisition of Alex Morgan. However, Morgan remains there until the summer, as she is only on loan from her NWSL club, the Orlando Pride.

Let’s take a look at the mind of Pugh first here. I get it. She’s 19, she wants to be with her national team friends, like Lindsey Horan and Allie Long. However, there’s another aspect Pugh should look at before hopping and buying a ticket to Portland.

Would she even get playing time?

Mark Parsons, head coach of the Thorns, would be smart to pass up on Pugh. There is absolutely no way that Parsons would bench Christine Sinclair – the captain – and Nadia Nadim – a veteran international and goal-scoring machine for the Thorns – just so Pugh could get some playing time. There’s no way that Pugh would be moved to the midfield, as it’s already stacked with Long, Tobin Heath, Horan, Celeste Boureille, Amandine Henry and even Mallory Weber.

Her going to the Thorns would result in little to no playing time would essentially be useless when it comes to a future with the national team. The standard has always been the same standard: if you’re playing, and playing well, you’ll more than likely get called up by USWNT head coach Jill Ellis.

However, if you’re not playing, there’s no need for Ellis to ring the phone.

That being said, if Pugh really wants to keep her positive momentum going with the United States Women’s National Team, then she will go to Europe, or at least sign with the Washington Spirit. Because in all reality, there are much worse places she could go to.

If Pugh wants to make a practical, and well-thought out decision, she would hop on that plane and get to the Spirit. Pugh has the potential to become the face of the Washington Spirit franchise. She just has to take that chance.


Photo of Mallory Pugh and Alex Morgan courtesy of Scott Halleran/Getty 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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