U.S. national team star Mallory Pugh has left UCLA in pursuit of professional opportunities, the university announced Monday.
The 18-year-old winger has scored five goals in 22 caps since debuting for the U.S. in January 2016, starting two matches at the Summer Olympics in Brazil. Pugh enrolled at UCLA this winter and departs ahead of what would have been her freshman season this fall, having only appeared in three spring exhibition games.
"This decision was certainly not easy for me to make," Pugh said in a news release. "UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would've been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity."
Should Pugh sign with the NWSL, the Washington Spirit would have the first crack at signing her because the club sits atop the league's allocation order. But SI.com has reported that Washington — the only team in the NWSL without a U.S. national team player — is not among Pugh's preferred destinations, with a move to France a possibility.