Who Is Mallory Pugh? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Forward Competing In The World Cup

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Who Is Mallory Pugh? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Forward Competing In The World Cup

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is set to face off against France on June 28th, after winning all their games in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup so far: Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, Sweden 2-0, and Spain 2-1. In advancing to the quarter-finals, we’re seeing just how talented, ambitious, and determined they are to win and prove themselves to the world.

If you didn’t know, the U.S. team is the most successful team in international women’s soccer, winning three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. And the fact that they keep advancing calls attention to their recent lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The team alleges unequal pay compared to the men’s team, who isn’t nearly as successful.

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But the lawsuit shouldn’t be a distraction from these amazing women. And we’re curious to know about their personal lives off the field. Who is Mallory Pugh? Here are 7 things to know about the forward for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

1. She comes from a family of athletes.

Growing up in Colorado, Pugh was immediately immersed into the world of sports. Her father, Horace, ran track and played football, and her mother, Karen, was a long-distance runner.

2. Her older sister was her role model.

Pugh credits her sister, Brianna, as inspiring her to get into soccer. She began playing when she was four, and then transitioned to club soccer with Real Colorado, eventually playing on competitive teams.

According to Pugh, Brianna pushed her around and never let her win: “It was 2v1 and I was five years younger. It was so unfair. But it was so good for me.” But it made her “crave challenges and hard situations.” 

3. She continued playing in high school.

Pugh played three seasons with her high school team and throughout her career, was named to the All-Colorado Team, offensive MVP, NSCAA Youth All-American, Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year, Colorado Sports Hall of Fame High School Female Athlete of the Year, and NSCAA Youth Girls National Player of the Year.

At 17 years old, she played at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Qualifying Tournament, helping her team win the tournament title. She was the youngest player at that time to debut for the U.S. Pugh also played on numerous teams, including U-17 WNT, U-20 WNT, and played in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

4. She didn’t attend college.

She attended UCLA for a semester to try it out but it didn’t end up being what she wanted. Said Pugh, “No, I’m comfortable. I want to do something that makes me uncomfortable. I remember thinking to myself, I could be with my friends at UCLA, yet here I am alone, with my bare-walled apartment. But then I’d remind myself — no, you were comfortable. This is what will challenge you.”

Instead, after one semester, she signed to Washington Spirit in 2017, where she plays currently in addition to USWNT.

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5. She’s best friends with Rose Lavelle.

And they’re also roommates! The two share an apartment in Rockville, D.C., with Andi Sullivan, who plays for the Spirit.

They support each other tremendously and when Lavelle scored against Thailand, her best friend cried. “I shed a tear — or a few — when she scored. It was so emotional for me because I’ve seen Rose put in so much work and I know that her road here has been kind of rocky and she’s had some injuries,” she said. “Living with her back in D.C. I’ve seen her put in extra work. As a friend I was just so proud of her. Just to see that hard work pay off, it was really cool.”

And Lavelle is grateful to have such a close friend: “Mal is one of my best friends so it’s been fun to be able to experience this with her. It’s been awesome to be able to continue to build our relationship when we’re away from this environment on and off the field, so we’re both excited to be able to have this opportunity.”

Plus, both made their World Cup debuts together. Said Pugh, “We were looking at each other and almost started tearing up again because it was so amazing to play in your first World Cup and have your best friend there, too.”

6. She’s incredibly fast — and she knows it.

When growing up, Pugh says she was “so desperate to get out and play soccer — to run around and play anything, really — that I didn’t care what sort of damage I left behind. The scar on my forehead? I got it from — guess what — running around too much... but literally a week after I got my stitches out, I was back outside: dribbling a soccer ball around by myself at our neighbor’s house.”

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Recounting her numerous injuries when she was a kid, Pugh recalls how her parents would refer to her as a “reckless child.”

And she has some words of advice for herself in her first World Cup:

“I have a goal. It’s for this year, for the World Cup and beyond: I want to be the best at everything I do... But at the same time, let’s also be honest: I’m still only 21 years old. And no matter how tough I talk, or how confident I seem about what my goals are for the World Cup and whatever comes after, there’s this part of me who’s still just going to be that O.G. Mal: learning as she goes, and picking up a few scars along the way...

There’s a part of me who’s always going to be that child: That kid who has to practice in the house, and race dogs down the street, and settle for any — and I mean any — TV that works. That soccer rat who doesn’t do it for ambition, or recognition, or even the desire to be the best, but rather because, straight up, she just has more energy, and more spirit, and more love for the game than she’ll ever know what to do with. And she has to let it out.”

7. She’s dating another pro athlete.

Pugh is in a relationship with Dansby Swanson, who plays shortstop for the Atlanta Braves! The two were introduced through a mutual friend. In an interview with Sporting News, Swanson revealed how they met:

“Mal Pugh. Her brother-in-law is Jace Pederson. Me and him are pretty much family, as close as you can be without being actual family. Ride or die. So I knew Jace before I knew anything about her. She plays soccer for the U.S. Soccer team. We never would have met, obviously, if I didn’t get traded to Atlanta. 

Would never have met Jace, the whole thing. So I’m thankful now, looking back at the little things that led to that. Would never have met her, never have had that blessing. When we met was after the worst year of my life, and that completely did a 180. For whatever reason, there’s a reason. You may not see it when you’re going through it, but then all of a sudden the floodgates open up. It’s pretty awesome.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.