Commentary

Teen star Mallory Pugh has her own unique style

By Mike Woitalla

At age 16, Mallory Pugh started all four U.S. games at the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup. So it’s little surprise that Pugh, as a high school junior, was named 2014-15 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

Between this year’s U-20 national team camps – she’s eligible for the 2016 U-20 World Cup – Pugh managed to score had 24 goals and 12 assists for Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She also scored 17 goals in 13 appearances for Real Colorado during the 2014-15 ECNL season.

"Mallory Pugh is an incredibly exciting player,” says Tony DiCicco, who coached the USA to titles at the 1996 Olympics, 1999 World Cup and 2008 U-20 World Cup. “I have tried to compare her to a Mia Hamm or Kristine Lilly or Tiffeny Milbrett when they were at that age, but the truth is she has her own unique style and way of beating defenders and carving up defenses. What a talent!"


Mallory Pugh Photo by Susan Goldman courtesy of Gatorade.

On being called the future face of American women’s soccer, Pugh told USA Today:

“There’s pressure there when you hear that, but that’s not my focus. Instead, I think about what motivates me: my love of the game and my love of playing the game.”

Pugh, who turned 17 last month, has verbally committed to UCLA for the fall of 2016.

Five of the previous winners -- Amy Rodriguez, Ashlyn Harris, Morgan Brian, Heather O'Reilly, Lauren (née Cheney) Holiday-- are on the USA’s roster for this summer’s Women’s World Cup. A sixth, Teresa Noyola, is on Mexico's roster.

Gatorade National Girls Player of the Year
2014-15 Mallory Pugh
2013-14 Katie Cousins
2012-13 Morgan Andrews
2011-12 Morgan Andrews
2010-11 Morgan Brian
2009-10 Mollie Pathman
2008-09 Rachel Quon
2007-08 Teresa Noyola
2006-07 Melissa Henderson
2005-06 Lauren Cheney
2004-05 Amy Rodriguez
2003-04 Ashlyn Harris
2002-03 Heather O'Reilly
2001-02 Jill Oakes
2000-01 Mary McDowell
1999-00 Aleisha Cramer-Rose
1998-99 Christie Welsh
1997-98 Aly Wagner

San Antonio Scorpions Leave Academy

NASL club San Antonio Scorpions announced the shutting down of its U.S. Soccer Development Academy program.

“Over the last seven months, we studied creating various different partnerships that would have not only kept the academy teams intact, but expanded our involvement with youth player development in San Antonio,” the club announced in press release. “Unfortunately, we were unable to come to an agreement with the prospective partners. …

”The Scorpions recognize the vital importance of a strong youth soccer program in San Antonio and will continue to actively support youth soccer development throughout the city through our partnerships with numerous programs.”

In the Central Conference, the Scorpions finished 12th among 13 teams at U-17/18 and last in the U-15/16 conference. They also fielded a U-13/14 team.

Academy Director Course Launched

The U.S. Soccer's first Academy Director course launched last month and runs through July 2016. Twenty candidates were selected for what is the highest-level USSF course offered for youth coaches. Instructors at the first session, led by U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Development Dave Chesler, included heath & fitness coach John Cone, national staff instructor Vince Ganzberg and sports psychologist Greg Shelley -- focusing on Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD), Zone I (U-6 to U-12).

2015/16 Candidates
Tony Annan (Dunwoody, Ga./Georgia United); Matias Asorey (Miami, Fla./Kendall SC); John Bradford (Raleigh, N.C./Capital Area Railhawks CASL); Erik Bushey (Denver, Colo./Colorado Rush); Tim Carter (Northfield, Minn./Shattuck-St. Mary’s); James Clarkson (Missouri City, Texas/Houston Dynamo); Jonathon Colton (Potomac, Md./Bethesda SC); Scott Donnelly (Exeter, N.H./U.S. Soccer); Don Gemmell (The Woodlands, Texas/Texas Rush Soccer Club); Mickey Kydes (Norwalk, Conn./Beachside of CT SC); Paul McGlynn (Middle Village, N.Y./BW Gottschee); Michael Milazzo (Richmond, VA /Richmond United); Samuel Nellins (Denville, N.J./Player Development Acad.); Marc Nicholls (Seattle, Wash./Seattle Sounders); Jon Parry (Overland Park, Kan./Sporting Kansas City); Darren Powell (Lake Mary, Fla./Orlando City); Todd Saldana (El Segundo, Calif./U.S. Soccer); Nolan Sheldon (Washington, D.C./D.C. United); Larry Sunderland (Brookfield, Ill./Chicago Fire Soccer Club); Martin Vazquez (Casa Grande, Ariz./Real Salt Lake-AZ).

USYS National League Expands

The US Youth Soccer National League will expand from 16 to 32 teams in each of the U-15, U-16 and U-17 age groups for the 2016-17 season. The National League provides a pathway to the US Youth Soccer National Championships.

The 32 qualifiers for the 2016-17 National League are expected to come from:

* Four top returning 2015-16 National League teams (a total of 4 teams)
* Four top teams from each of the four Regional Leagues (a total of 16 teams)
* Four Regional Championship Representatives to the 2016 National Championships (a total of 4 teams)
* Eight additional teams to come from either Regional League, Regional Championship or National League play yet to be determined (a total of 8 teams)

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