NWSL Notebook: Pugh Joins Washington Spirit

Houston, TX - April 8, 2017: The USWNT trains in preparation for a friendly against Russia at BBVA Compass stadium.

By TOM SLATER

NWSL logoAfter weeks of speculation Mallory Pugh, 19, is officially a member of the Washington Spirit and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Pugh decided college (UCLA) wasn’t for her. According to initial reports, she preferred the Portland Thorns to the Spirit, the club that held her NWSL right. There was also talk of Pugh heading to Europe, France specifically. But none of those “reports” included any statements from Pugh.

She participated in her first Spirit practice on Tuesday morning before an introductory news conference with Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra, the Spirit captain Shelina Zadorsky and the club president Chris Hummer.

“Today at training, I felt like I just meshed right in,” Pugh said. “We were playing around. There were smiles all over the field, which I love. If you’re not having fun with what you’re doing, you’re not going to succeed. I can really tell that everyone is just having fun, but also is very competitive and wants to get better.

“That’s the vibe I got out of today and I love it.”

Zadorsky said: “We’re so happy to welcome her. [She is] obviously a dynamic, attacking player and someone who will fit right in perfectly. I think, obviously, with a lot of changes throughout last year, we’re growing each and every game. This is just a positive spark for us right now.”

Pugh is expected to make her NWSL debut when the Spirit (1-3-1, 4 points) hosts FC Kansas City (1-2-2, 5) on Saturday.

Player of the Week: Seattle’s Kawasumi

The Japanese striker Nahomi Kawasumi broke two league records when she scored a goal and had four assists in Seattle’s 6-2 win over the Washington Spirit.

Kawasumi was named the NWSL Player of the Week for the fourth time. In addition to the four assists, she became the first NWSL player to be directly involved in five goals in one game. Kasasumi assisted on goals by Christine Nairn, Beverly Yanez, Megan Rapinoe and Lindsay Elston.

The Reign (2-1-2, 8) are the league-leaders in goals scored (15), though 11 came in  two games — the win 6-2 over the Spirit and a 5-1 win against Houston.

A Weekend of Firsts

North Carolina (4-1-0, 12) lost its first game and Orlando (1-2-2, 5) won its first game — all in the same 90 minutes. Orlando got three goals — all after halftime — to beat the Courage, 3-1. The Pride are the only team to score on the Courage (the teams tied 1-1 in an earlier game).

Killion Leads in Scoring

Sky Blue midfielder Sarah Killion is leading the league in goals. The third-year midfielder has four — three on penalty kicks — to top the NWSL list.

Press Rescues Red Stars

Christen Press picked a good time to score her first goal of the season — with a minute left in regulation that gave Chicago (2-2-1, 7) a 1-1 draw with Boston (2-2-1, 7). Trailing by 1-0, midfielder Sofie Huerta served a beautiful ball to the far post where Press  headed it home.

Press’ finish was selected as the NWSL Goal of the Week.