United States women’s national team rising star Mallory Pugh is headed to the Washington Spirit and the National Women’s Soccer League, the league announced Saturday.
Pugh is a newly allocated U.S. Soccer Federation Player and the Spirit acquired her with the number one spot in the Distribution Ranking Order.
“We are thrilled with the addition of Mallory Pugh to the NWSL and excited to have her join the Washington Spirit,” NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy said in a league press release. “Mallory’s a dynamic talent and one of the top young players in the world. We look forward to her continued development at the club and international levels in the years to come.”
The Colorado-born forward is expected to make her NWSL debut on Saturday, May 20, as the Spirit host FC Kansas City (7 p.m. ET, go90).
Pugh was interviewed immediately following the announcement by Aly Wagner and Dalen Cuff during the pregame show before the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime.
“I think this league is incredible and there’s so much growth and there’s so much potential it has,” she said. “I hope that I can become more technical, see and read the game better and also just have fun with it.
“I am super excited and cannot wait for this opportunity to come.”
Pugh had been enrolled at UCLA and played in three spring games this year, but in April announced that she would be leaving the school to turn pro.
The 19-year-old brings an impressive resume to the NWSL.
Pugh is the youngest player to ever score for the United States in the Olympics, hitting the back of the net on August 9, 2016, at the age of 18. In the United States’ group stage 2-2 tie with Colombia, Pugh dribbled past several defenders before sending a left-footed shot that beat Colombia goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda for the United States’ second goal.
At the age of 17 (8 months and 25 days), Pugh earned her first senior cap on January 23, 2016 vs. Ireland and scored on a header in her debut. She was the youngest player to make her women’s national team debut since Heather O’Reilly in 2002, the 19th player to score in her first game and the sixth youngest USWNT goal scorer ever.
She has four goals in 22 total appearances and has become a regular starter with the national team since her debut last year.
She was named U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year in 2015 following her performance at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championships. In five games, she scored seven goals and added four assists on her way to winning the tournament’s Golden Ball and Golden Boot trophies. She got the call-up to the senior team after the tournament, and has been a regular presence on the senior team ever since.
In 2014, at the age of 16, Pugh was a starter and the youngest player on the U.S. team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. In 2016, she was the captain of the U.S. team that finished fourth at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Pugh’s most recent U.S. women’s national team caps came vs. Russia in April, where she notched three assists over the two matches.
At the U-17 level, Pugh scored 15 goals in 12 games. At the U-20 level, she scored 19 goals in 29 games.
The Washington Spirit host FC Kansas City on Saturday, May 20 (7 p.m. ET, go90) at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex.