In 2016 the Portland Thorns shocked the WoSo world when they traded into the top spot in the newly established NWSL allocation rankings. The Thorns sent the No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL draft to the Boston Breakers in return for what analysts agree was the chance to pick up teenage sensation Mallory Pugh.
But it was not to be. After an extended courtship with the Thorns, Pugh broke hearts throughout the Rose City and announced that she would be attending UCLA and deferring her ascension to the professional ranks.
Now, just over a year later, Pugh, 18, is once again talking about going pro and rumor has it that the Thorns are her destination of choice in the NWSL. Of course, even more rumors have the current holders of the league’s top allocation spot, the Washington Spirit, balking at the idea of trading away a star in the making, even if she might take off for Europe rather than play for them.
For the Thorns, the possibility of getting Pugh after last year’s disappointment has to be an enticing one. Pugh is already a rising star with the U.S. Women’s National Team, having made 22 appearances for the side since her senior-team debut last year, notching four goals and ten assists from her position on the wing.
Adding Pugh to the Thorns’ already stacked midfield would certainly increase the quality in the side and give the team yet another strong player to build around for the future. However, that increase will almost certainly come at a steep cost if the Timbers can convince the Spirit to part ways with their spot in the allocation order at all. Gavin Wilkinson and company have reportedly already made an offer — characterized as “substantial” in the SI.com piece linked above — that Washington turned down, and the possibility of bringing in Sunil Gulati and US Soccer to mediate does not instill confidence.
What should the Thorns be willing to give up to bring in Pugh? Will she play in the NWSL this year or will Pugh ply her trade overseas? What are the odds that the Thorns get the trade done and Pugh goes overseas anyway? Share your thoughts in the comments below.