The Chicago Red Stars have parted with some of their substantial draft capital to boost their squad with some established talent.
The Red Stars dealt three first-round picks in the next two NWSL drafts and an international roster spot for the next two years to Sky Blue FC in exchange for Mal Pugh and Sarah Killion Woldmoe on Tuesday.
Sky Blue is receiving the fourth and eighth overall picks in the 2021 draft and a conditional first-rounder in 2022. In addition to already holding the third overall pick, Sky Blue has three first-round selections in next month's draft.
Chicago, meanwhile, boosts its attack with the addition of Pugh and solidifies its midfield with Woldmoe. The club had lost forwards Savannah McCaskill and Yuki Nagasato in a pre-expansion-draft trade with Racing Louisville, but it's reloaded with this trade.
“We are excited to welcome Mallory and Sarah to the Chicago Red Stars family,” Chicago Red Stars coach Rory Dames said in a statement. “They are both talented, experienced players of character. I’m confident they’ll fit in well with the group and will help our continued evolution.”
Pugh will be looking for a rejuvenation that never came with Sky Blue, mostly due to injuries and the pandemic. She was dealt to the New Jersey-based club from the Washington Spirit less than a year ago in another trade for a haul of draft picks, but anything resembling a regular season was derailed by COVID-19, and she missed NWSL's Challenge Cup with a hip injury. She returned for one appearance off the bench in the league's Fall Series, registering an assist.
A 2019 Women's World Cup winner, the 22-year-old forward is seeking a strong rebound on the club level to get back in USWNT manager Vlatko Andonovski's good graces entering an Olympic year. As a 17-year-old, Pugh cracked the USWNT's 18-player roster at the 2016 Olympics, but she's got some ground to make up to earn a trip to Tokyo. She has amassed 63 caps, 18 goals and 17 assists in her time with the national team.
“I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to play for the Chicago Red Stars,” Pugh said. “The team has so many great players, including some of my USWNT teammates, and I can’t wait to join them and work hard to help the club bring home a championship.”
Pugh will join U.S. regulars Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Casey Short, Morgan Gautrat and Tierna Davidson in Chicago.
Woldmoe, meanwhile, played for Sky Blue for the last five years, ever since she was the second overall pick in the NWSL draft. She had been a constant for the club, making 116 appearances, scoring 11 goals, and assisting on nine more. She appeared in every match for Sky Blue in the Challenge Cup and the Fall Series.