• Hannah Mandell

How does Mallory Pugh Stack Up Against Legendary USWNT Front Liners?

Updated: Feb 20

Hannah Mandell

Sunday, January 17th, 2021, 11:30 AM

  • Mallory Pugh returns to USWNT training camp in preparation for friendlies in Orlando

  • Pugh’s NWSL stats trail those of current USWNT namesake forwards

  • Based off Pugh’s NWSL career, it is difficult to tell predict where she will be situated on the USWNT roster

Image: Washington Spirit

In 2016, Mallory Pugh was the youngest female player to be selected to represent the U.S. National Team in an Olympic qualifying event. In those Summer Olympics, Pugh also became the youngest player to ever score for the United States in an Olympic Game.

At a spry 22 years old, the USWNT rookie has already made a name for herself in the USA Women’s Soccer history book. But the world of sports is always moving, and USWNT fans are looking to the future - the very near future. The USWNT training camp is occurring as I type this, preparing the team for friendlies against Colombia on January 18th and 22nd, as well as the upcoming SheBelieves Cup. Where does Pugh sit in the mix of USWNT talent? We look towards her NWSL career as a beacon of information.

From 2017 - 2019, on a match-to-match basis, Pugh trailed her fellow USWNT Forwards, including Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), and Lynn Williams (NC Courage)*, in average goals. She even fell behind the NWSL average goals scored by starting forwards by 0.07. In terms of successful final third passes, Pugh lead Williams, but was again behind Lloyd and Rapinoe. However, the Colorado native surpassed Lloyd and Williams in on-target assist attempts and additionally stands near the better end of the pack for turnovers.

Pugh, known for her fierce battle-like style of play, certainly hangs with the veterans. But she may have to call more heavily upon her precision and finishing skills to ensure that her name is inscribed on tomorrow’s lineup.

After being left off the roster for the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, it is exciting to see the Chicago Red Star’s name back in the USWNT jersey. With Alex Morgan and Christen Press absent from the 2021 USWNT training camp, and both Lloyd, 38, and Rapinoe, 35, returning from long injuries, will Pugh have the fortitude and discipline to cement herself as a top starting contender for the Lady Yanks’ front line? USWNT fans will be waiting to see how Coach Vlatko Andonovski draws up the pitch for the upcoming friendlies against Colombia in Orlando tomorrow, January 18th, and January 22nd, both at 7 PM ET.

Pugh certainly has youth on her side, but perhaps, as the statistics show, lacks the experience and finesse of the team’s more legendary contributors.

Data acquired from: https://github.com/adror1/nwslR

*Sophia Smith, the USWNT’s 5th Forward, was omitted from this analysis as she does not have any NWSL data up at this time.

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