Mal Pugh to play in NWSL Championship after clearing COVID protocols

Chicago's Mallory Pugh (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chicago Red Stars forward and NWSL MVP runner-up Mallory Pugh will play in the NWSL Championship game after clearing COVID-19 protocols.

Pugh has cleared the NWSL’s COVID-19 protocols after entering them prior to last Sunday’s semifinal match against the Portland Thorns. She was joined by defender Kayla Sharples, who has also been cleared to play in the final Saturday against the Washington Spirit.

As of Monday, Red Stars head coach Rory Dames was uncertain about the status of both players. He did not explicitly say whether either had tested positive, only that they were both symptom-free while in protocol. At the time, he was unsure of either player’s timeline and said he hoped to have them back for the championship game.

Earlier this week, it was unclear what Pugh’s status would be. Those who test positive for COVID-19 must clear a 10-day isolation period under the NWSL’s COVID-19 protocols before returning to play. However, if a player does not test positive, a return to play can occur if negative tests are produced on days 5 and 7 of their quarantine.

The NWSL does note in their policies in regards to COVID-19 exposure that “each case will be evaluated and may present unique circumstances not covered by these protocols.”

It is unclear what the case is in regards to Pugh.

Both Kealia Watt and Casey Krueger are out of the championship match, according to Dames. Watt went down in the semifinal game with an undisclosed injury while Krueger has been out with an illness unrelated to COVID-19.

The Chicago Red Stars take on the Washington Spirit on Saturday in the NWSL Championship at 12 p.m. ET on CBS.