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Mallory Pugh leaves UCLA to begin professional career

Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA Today Sports

One of the brightest U.S. Women’s National Team stars is set to begin her professional career.

UCLA announced on Monday night that Mallory Pugh has left the school to pursue the next stage of her career. Pugh enrolled in UCLA in the winter and was set to begin her college career this fall. The 18-year-old winger has already amassed 22 international caps, including two starts at the 2016 Olympics, while scoring five international goals.

“This decision was certainly not easy for me to make,” Pugh said. “UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would’ve been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity.

“I want to thank my teammates, coaches, UCLA Athletics, and everyone else for the support I have behind me. I may have been here for a short time, but UCLA will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be a Bruin.”

According to Sports Illustrated, the NWSL’s Washington Spirit get the first opportunity at signing Pugh should she sign with the league, but that is far from a foregone conclusion. Washington is reportedly not one of Pugh’s preferred destinations while the Portland Thorns would be a preferred landing spot. Meanwhile, there are also reportedly options in France, such as Lyon or Paris Saint-Germain, if Pugh opted to forego a deal with the NWSL.


  1. You guys do realize that Horan signed a six-figure deal with PSG, foregoing college a couple years ago, right? If you’re talented there is money to be made as a woman over in Europe.

    I get the feeling that’s where she wants to go. I say go for it.

    Unpopular opinion, but the USWNT may be better served with it’s best playing over in Europe. We have to change. Can’t rely on our structure in the women’s game, and superior athleticism to win anymore. 2015 was the last hurrah for that, IMO.

  2. While I agree professional set ups are better for developing talented players, I have to say that I don’t know how I feel about it. There just isn’t enough money in the women’s game. Outside the top 3/5 players. Go make 75-100k for (hopefully) 10 years. Then what are your exit opportunities. US Soccer should guarantee the rest of her lost scholarship beyond salary.

    • I totally agree that this may not be the best idea For one thing, she will someday regret having never fully enjoying a time in college. Those are the best times of your life and she lasted less than 6 months.

      So now she is 18 years old, looking at either moving somewhere she doesnt want to live in the states or moving to Europe. Either way, she will struggle at this age without any family support network with her. She is truly alone and in Europe… its all so different. Even TV stinks Should she receive some serious career ending injury, she is left with no education, no degree to fall back upon and no prospects. She may last 10 or 12 years in a professional soccer career. I wonder if there’s enough money in it for a woman to call it a career when shes done?

  3. I had no idea she was still in college. So, she never collected a paycheck while playing for the national team – being an “amateur” athlete?

    • That was a serious question though. @Ryan Tolmich: can you provide some more information on, what seems like, a pretty vital detail?

    • Think she’ll be fine. Was at the Russia game in Houston and she was by far the most entertaining player, if not the best that day.

      She can easily find a college substitute, either private, public or community college, if she goes the NWSL route, now or in the future. Might as well start developing as a pro now.


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