A landmark decision in women’s soccer has reportedly seen 17-year-old Mallory Pugh forgo her commitment to UCLA, instead deciding to join the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.
Pugh, currently training with the USWNT, becomes just the second U.S. woman to skip college to play professionally, and the first to do so domestically. In 2012 Lindsay Horan turned down UNC in favor of a professional career with Paris Saint-Germain. Horan will likely play for the Thorns in the upcoming season after the team acquired her rights in the Alex Morgan trade and was allocated just two days ago.
Pugh landed in Portland thanks to newly announced NWSL allocation rules that place players with salaries subsidized by the national federation, labeling the players as “Unattached Subsidized Individuals” (USIs). The Boston Breakers were initially atop the allocation rankings, but they traded that spot to Portland in exchange for the draft’s #3 pick after Pugh’s family requested the chance to join the Thorns according to multiple reports.
The decision by Pugh is groundbreaking because not only is she the first woman to make her decision, but also because she’s forgoing a free college education in favor of joining a professional league in continuous flux.
Pugh helped the United States U-20 team win the CONCACAF title in December, and is eligible to play for the United States in the U-20 World Cup in November.
The minimum salary for an NWSL player in 2015 was $6,842 for the course of the six-month season; the maximum was $37,800. United States internationals get paid a league salary in addition to a salary for their play on the national team.