The most fascinating signing saga in U.S. soccer right now involves Mal Pugh, the 19-year-old budding superstar who just left UCLA to turn pro.
Pugh has met in the past week with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour for what is sure to be one of the biggest endorsement deals for a U.S. women’s player outside of Alex Morgan (who earns well into seven figures per year on endorsements). On Monday, Pugh met with officials from the Washington Spirit, which holds the allocation rights to select Pugh in the NWSL. One problem: Pugh doesn’t want to play in Washington—which has seen the departure of national team players Crystal Dunn, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris the last two seasons—and would rather be in Portland with the popular Thorns. But Washington owner Bill Lynch does not want to trade Pugh’s rights and has a major beef with Portland over its signing of former Spirit coach Mark Parsons.
If the NWSL teams can’t work out a deal, Pugh could go to UEFA Women's Champions League finalist Paris Saint-Germain, which has already made her a contract offer, according to a source at the club. The NWSL can’t afford to lose Pugh, though, and the U.S. is where Pugh would prefer to be. Most of the people I’m speaking to think she’ll end up in the NWSL in a city other than Portland or Washington.
Other NWSL teams interested in acquiring Pugh include Orlando, Seattle and Houston.
Elsehwere around Planet Fútbol: