Mallory Diane "Mal" Pugh (born April 29, 1998) is an American soccer player who currently plays for the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League and the United States women's national soccer team.

Pugh has represented the United States at two FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup tournaments. She was the youngest member of the team at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada. She was also a member of the U-20 team that helped the United States qualify for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup and captained the team at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea. After playing extensively with the U–17 and U–20 teams, Pugh first appeared for the United States senior national team on January 23, 2016 in an international friendly against Ireland. At 17, she was the youngest player to debut for the national team since Heather O'Reilly's debut in 2002. Pugh scored in the 83rd minute in her first appearance, becoming the 19th United States player to score in her debut. Shortly after her debut, Pugh was one of the 18 players chosen to represent the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was there that Pugh scored her first Olympic goal against Colombia, giving the United States a 2–1 lead. Her goal also made her the youngest player to ever score a goal for the United States in an Olympic game.

On April 17, 2017, Pugh made the announcement that she would forego her college career with UCLA and turn professional. On May 13, 2017, it was announced that Mallory Pugh had signed to play with Washington Spirit after negotiations to get to Portland Thorns had failed.

In 2015, she received the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year and Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year awards. In January 2016, she became the youngest female player to be selected and play for the U.S. national team during an Olympic qualifying tournament.[7]

 

 

Early life

Born in Highlands Ranch, Colorado to Karen and Horace Pugh, Mallory was raised with her older sister Brianna. Her mother was a long-distance runner and her father ran track and played football.[8] Growing up, Pugh considered her older sister Brianna as a role model and cites her as a reason she got started in soccer.[9] She started playing soccer at the age of four and then followed in her sister's footsteps and played club soccer with Real Colorado in the Elite Clubs National League.[9][10] She played on the competitive team with the club at the U-11 through U-18 levels; although she started playing recreational soccer at the U-5 level. During her last two years with the team, she often trained with the club's Boys Development Academy team.[10] Pugh helped Real Colorado win state titles in 2010 and 2011. In addition, the team made it to the Elite Clubs National League finals in both 2013 and 2014. At the U-16 level, Real Colorado won state and regional titles and became runner-up at nationals. Pugh was named the MVP of the regional tournament that year.

As her parents, we know how she is. She's not hard on herself; she's just always looking to get better. We go to the games now and we’re excited. Like, ‘What is she going to do?’ That's the fun part of it: What is she going to do?
Horace Pugh, father[11]

Pugh attended Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch from 2012 to 2016. In her three seasons with the team, Pugh scored 47 goals and recorded 23 assists. As a freshman, Pugh was named to the All-Colorado Team after leading her team to a state title. She was named offensive MVP at Mountain Vista and a NSCAA Youth All-American for 2013. During her sophomore year, despite missing more than half of her high school games due to national team commitments, she helped the team to the state semifinals. As a junior, Pugh scored 24 goals and 12 assists in 18 games and helped the team reach the state semifinals. She was subsequently named the 2014–15 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year and Colorado Sports Hall of Fame 2015 High School Female Athlete of the Year. In addition, she was named NSCAA Youth Girls National Player of the Year for 2014 and 2015.

In January 2016, it was reported that Pugh had rejected college in order to turn professional and play for National Women's Soccer League club Portland Thorns when she finished high school.[12] Later that week, her father said the reports were false and that Pugh would join the UCLA soccer team as originally planned.[13] In July 2016, it was announced she delayed entrance to UCLA until January 2017, due to national team commitments for the Rio Olympics and the 2016 FIFA U–20 Women's World Cup.[14] She appeared in three non-competitive Spring scrimmages in early 2017 before departing UCLA to pursue a professional career prior to starting her freshman season.[15]

International career

Youth National Teams

In 2011, Pugh attended the annual United States under–14 girl's national team identification camp from July 13 to August 7 in Portland, Oregon. The camp was used as an evaluation for U–14 training camp held in September.[16] Pugh was then called into the U–14 national team training camp at Home Depot Center in Carson, California from September 18 to 25.[17] In 2012, Pugh attended a U–15 national team training camp from February 11 to 18.[18] She then joined the team for a second training camp from June 3 to 10 at The Home Depot Center.[19] Also during the summer, the U–14 national team conducted three separate training camps to replace the large identification camp of previous years. Pugh attended the second camp, which ran from August 12 to 19.[20]

U-17 WNT

In 2013, Pugh attended a U–15 national team training camp from February 24 to March 2 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.[21] She then moved up to the U–17 national team and traveled to San José, Costa Rica for an international tournament in late April.[22] Following the tournament, Pugh joined the U–17 team for a training camp from June 9 to 16.[23] In preparation for the 2013 CONCACAF Women's U–17 Championship, Pugh attended another U–17 training camp from July 21 to 31 in Columbus, Ohio as well as a camp in Lakewood Ranch, Florida from September 15 to 22.[7][7]

In late September 2013, Pugh was named to the roster for the 2013 CONCACAF U–17 Women's Championship held in Jamaica from October 30 to November 9.[7] Before heading to Jamaica, the team trained together once against in Lakewood Ranch for seven days.[7] During the tournament, Pugh was a key player and leading scorer with five goals and three assists. In the semifinal match against Mexico on November 7, the United States fell in penalties after a 1–1 tie in regulation. With a third-place finish in the tournament, the United States did not qualify to the 2014 FIFA U–17 Women's World Cup.[7]

Pugh remained with the U–17 national team for a short time in 2014. She started off the year with the team at a training camp from January 11 to 19 in Carson, California. The camp served as a preparation for an international tournament held in February.[7] Pugh was on the roster for the tournament, which was held at the U.S. National Team Training Center in Carson.[7] In their final match of the tournament on February 9, the United States faced Japan. During the game, Pugh scored her fourth goal of the tournament to help the United States pull away the 2–1 victory and win the tournament title.[7]

U-20 WNT

At the end of her time with the U–17 national team, Pugh was called up to the U–20 national team for a training camp from February 22 to March 2 that also featured a match against China.[7] Pugh was then on a 25–player roster for a U–20 training camp from April 13 to 20. In preparation for the 2014 FIFA U–20 Women's World Cup in August, the U–20 team also trained in May and July, with a trip to Europe in June.[7] After the team's final camp from July 9 to 23, Pugh was named to the roster for the 2014 FIFA U–20 Women's World Cup. At 16, she was the youngest member of the team.[8][8] Pugh played all 90 minutes of the team's first match of the tournament against Germany on August 5.[8] In the team's second group match against Brazil on August 8, Pugh suffered a right ankle injury in the 27th minute and was replaced by Taylor Racioppi.[8] Despite the injury, Pugh went on to start the remaining two matches of the tournament. The United States team fell to Korea DPR on August 16, which halted their advancement in the tournament.[8]

Pugh started off 2015 at a U–20 national team training camp in Sanford, Florida from January 24 to 31. The training camp featured a match against German club Bayern Munich.[8] Pugh started in that match; however, the U–20 team was defeated 4–0.[8] Following the training camp, Pugh was named to the 22–player roster for an invitational tournament in La Manga, Spain.[8] In the first match of the tournament, Pugh scored both goals of the game to help the United States defeat Norway.[8] Pugh wore the captain's armband during the team's second match against the Netherlands on March 7.[8] Pugh played all 90 minutes in the team's last match against Sweden on March 9.[44]

In November 2015, Pugh was named to the roster for the 2015 CONCACAF Women's U–20 Championship in December.[45] Pugh was the most experienced player on the roster and also captained the team.[46] In the first match against Mexico on December 4, Pugh scored on a penalty kick in the 20th minute.[47] The United States qualified for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup after defeating Honduras in the semifinal on December 11.[48] Pugh helped the team win the tournament with a 1–0 win over Canada on December 13. Following the tournament, Pugh was awarded the Golden Boot for most goals scored and the Golden Ball for best player of the tournament.[49] On December 18, Pugh was named the 2015 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year.[50]

Senior National Team

Following a successful run with the U-20 women's national team, Pugh was called up to the senior national team for the first training camp of 2016 from January 5 to 21 leading up to a match against Ireland. At age 17, she was one of the youngest field players to be called up to the team in 15 years.[51] On January 23, 2016, Pugh earned her first cap for the team during the match against Ireland, coming in for Alex Morgan in the 58th minute. She was the youngest player to debut for the national team since Heather O'Reilly's debut in 2002. She then became the 19th United States player to score in her debut when she scored her first international goal in the 83rd minute to secure the United States' 5–0 win.[52]

Following her first appearance, Pugh was named to the 20–player roster for 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying and became the youngest player to be named to an Olympic qualifying roster for the United States.[53] In the team's opening match against Costa Rica on February 10, Pugh replaced Crystal Dunn in the 68th minute.[54] She made her third appearance for the team in their second match of the tournament, coming in for Ali Krieger in the 75th minute to help the United States defeat Mexico 1–0.[55] Pugh made her first start in the team's match against Puerto Rico on February 15. During the match, she recorded an assist in the 6th minute. In the 18th minute, Puerto Rico player Selimar Pagan took down Pugh in the penalty box and the United States was given a penalty kick, which Carli Lloyd scored. In the 60th minute, Pugh sent a cross towards Alex Morgan, but it was deflected off Puerto Rican defender Ashley Rivera and into her own net.[56] Pugh started in the semifinal match against Trinidad and Tobago on February 19, helping the United States qualify to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after a 5–0 victory.[57] Pugh also made the start in the final against Canada, helping the United States win the tournament after defeating Canada 2–0.[58]

Pugh was named to the roster for the 2016 SheBelieves Cup that took place from March 3 to 9.[59] She started in the team's opening match of the tournament on March 3 against England.[60] In the match against France on March 6, Pugh assisted the only goal of the match in stoppage time, giving the United States the win.[61] She also made an appearance in the final match of the tournament against Germany and the United States won the 2016 SheBelieves Cup with a 2–1 win.[62]

Pugh joined a 23–player roster for a training camp ahead of two matches against Colombia in early April.[63] On April 6, Pugh scored her second international goal off an assist by Carli Lloyd in the team's first match against Colombia. She then assisted Lloyd's goal six minutes later.[64] She played all 90 minutes in the second match against Colombia on April 10.[65] Pugh was on the roster for a short training camp ahead of another two–game series against Japan in early June.[66] She played all 90 minutes of the first match on June 2 in Commerce City, Colorado and made an assist in the 27th minute.[67] Pugh did not dress for the second match on June 5 due to illness.[68]

2016 Summer Olympics

On July 12, 2016, Pugh was named to the 18–player team that would represent the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.[69] She made her Olympic debut on August 3 in the team's opening group match against New Zealand.[70] On August 9, Pugh came in for Megan Rapinoe in the 33rd minute of the team's final group match against Colombia. She scored in the 59th minute, becoming the youngest United States player to score a goal in the Olympics. She put the United States ahead 2–1 with her goal; however, the match ended in a 2–2 draw.[71] In the quarterfinals, Pugh started in the match against Sweden on August 12. The game was tied 1–1 after regulation time and Pugh was replaced by Lindsey Horan in the 114th minute in extra time. The United States were then defeated by Sweden in penalty kicks.[72]

Professional career

After much speculation as to where she would go when she turned pro, Pugh officially signed with the Washington Spirit of the NWSL on May 13, 2017.[73] She made her professional debut for the Spirit on May 20, 2017 versus FC Kansas City. [11]

Player statistics

Olympic appearances

MatchDateLocationOpponentLineupResultCompetition
2016 Women's Olympic Football Tournament
1
2016–08–03[70]Belo Horizonte, BrazilNew Zealandoff 51' (on Crystal Dunn)2–0 WGroup stage
2
2016-08-09[71]Manaus, BrazilColombiaon 33' (off Megan Rapinoe)2–2 DGroup stage
3
2016-08-12[72]Brasília, BrazilSwedenoff 114' (on Lindsey Horan)1–1 (pso 4–3) (L)Quarter-finals

International goals

 DateLocationOpponentLineup#MinAssist/passScoreResultCompetition
12016–01–23USASan Diego Ireland33.

on 58' (off Morgan)

1.183Christen Press

5550.05005 5–0

5550.05005 5–0

Friendly
22016–04–06[77]USAEast Hartford Colombia45.

off 46' (on Press)

1.139Carli Lloyd

5350.03005 3–0

5750.07005 7–0

Friendly
32016–07–23[78]Kansas City Costa Rica76.

off 77' (on Heath)

1.122unassisted

5350.03005 2–0

5750.07005 4–0

Friendly
42016–08–09Manaus Colombia58.

on 33' (off Rapinoe)

1.159Crystal Dunn

5150.02005 2–1

5050.02005 2–2

Olympics: Group G
52017-08-03[79]USACarson Japan73.

off 73' (on Williams)

1.160Taylor Smith

5250.02005 2–0

5950.09005 3–0

2017 Tournament of Nations

Honors

Individual