UCLA women’s soccer has some unprecedented talent slated to join the team in the next two years.
There haven’t been too many instances when a college soccer team could say that two current members of the U.S. National Team will be playing for them.
But that’s the case with UCLA.
Two teenagers were recently called up to the U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team. That’s the U.S. National team – not the U-17 team, not the U-20 team. The Big Dogs. That same team you saw win the World Cup last summer. The team of Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.
Those teenagers are Mallory Pugh, the consensus #1 prospect in the national class of 2016, and Ashley Sanchez, the #1 prospect nationally in the class of 2017.
|Mallory Pugh signing her UCLA NLI|
Pugh, from Highlands Ranch (Col.) Mountain Vista, signed an NLI with UCLA and will be in Westwood this fall.
Sanchez, who just turned 17 two weeks ago, is currently a junior at Monrovia (Calif.) High, and is verbally committed to UCLA, with a plan to enroll in fall of 2017.
There's a chance will be seeing Pugh and Sanchez in the Olympics before they actually play as Bruins. As of right now, the U.S. roster number is 23, but will be cut to 18 for the summer Olympics and Pugh and Sanchez have a chance to make the final 18.
When Pugh, who turns 18 years old in April, was named to the National Team in January, she was the youngest woman soccer player for a U.S. Olympic qualifying roster – until Sanchez was chosen in late March.
Sanchez is actually the first to ever play for the Women’s National Team who was born in 1999 – the year of the team’s big, seminal win in the World Cup.
The U.S. team has always had a bit of a UCLA tinge to it, with two Bruins recently featured prominently on the team – Lauren Holiday and Sydney Leroux. Holiday retired after the U.S. team won the World Cup last summer, and Leroux is taking time off to have a baby. So, the Bruin tradition could be carried by Pugh and Sanchez, along with another recent addition to the U.S. team – 2015 UCLA grad Sam Mewis, who was called up in 2015.
Pugh and Sanchez wouldn't be the only Olympians to play for UCLA soon. Canadian wunderkind Jessie Fleming, who has played on the Canadian National Team since she was 15, has also signed a UCLA NLI and will be on the Bruins squad this fall.
Pugh has already played with the U.S. Team, and had a big impact. A forward, she has started for the team in friendlies and has 9 caps and 1 goal. Pugh also was the captain of the U-20 National Team, and won the Golden Boot in leading the U-20 Women’s team to a 2016 World Cup berth.
Sanchez, a midfielder, was a big contributor on the U-20 team, playing alongside Pugh, but has yet to play with the Women’s National team.
In fact, Pugh and Sanchez have gotten some international publicity as a very potent duo playing with each other, and some hype as a one-two punch when named to the Women’s National Team qualifying team.
You’ll get a chance to see Pugh and Sanchez suit up with the National Team soon, with two friendlies against Columbia scheduled for April 6th and April 10th.
While Pugh will certainly have opportunities to play professionally after the Olympics this summer, she has maintained she will enroll and play at UCLA.