Insider Notes: Spirit rebuff Thorns' significant offer for chance to land Mal Pugh
On Monday night, SI.com broke the news that 18-year-old Mallory Pugh, the most coveted teenager in U.S. women’s soccer, was turning pro and leaving UCLA before having played an official game there. But where will Pugh sign?
The Washington Spirit are at the top of the NWSL allocation list, but Pugh doesn’t want to play there and would prefer to play in Portland with the Thorns. If that doesn’t happen, then Pugh could sign with perennial powers PSG or Lyon in France.
SI.com has learned that Portland has proposed a significant trade with Washington for the potential right to sign Pugh, but the Spirit, who have the first attempt to sign her through the league's allocation process, aren't budging. The stalemate could be settled at the NWSL owners meetings this Friday in Orlando, with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati brokering. (The NWSL is currently searching for a new commissioner to replace the departed Jeff Plush.)
The tug of war isn't limited to her on-field decision, either. Pugh is also set to decide between signing with Nike and Adidas, with potentially more shoe money on the table for her if she stays in the United States.
Pugh burst onto the U.S. women's national team scene over a year ago, scoring on her debut in January 2016 against Ireland. She has four senior national team goals to her name in 22 caps.
Elsewhere around the soccer world:
CONCACAF mulls League of Nations but doesn't want to lose USA-Mexico qualifiers
The CONCACAF Congress took place two weekends ago, and one topic that was discussed was a potential League of Nations that would mirror the one happening in UEFA to replace friendlies after World Cup 2018.
UEFA’s decision would make it impossible for CONCACAF teams like the U.S. to arrange friendlies against European teams, so CONCACAF is planning to join the League of Nations party. (Reuters first reported that news.)
Sources say that benefits from League of Nations success might include a berth in the eventual replacement World Cup qualifying tournament for the Hexagonal, which would see an increase from the six teams that are currently in it. Under FIFA's outline for the expanded 48-team World Cup, CONCACAF would receive six berths, up from the current three and a half, in the main event.
This is all in proposal mode now at CONCACAF, but sources say that the confederation does not want to remove the two quadrennial World Cup qualifying showdowns between the U.S. and Mexico.