NWSL Player of the Week: Mallory Pugh dazzles with epic goal

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(Daniel Bartel/USA TODAY Sports)

Mallory Pugh is on a tear for the Chicago Red Stars, scoring the fifth goal of her NWSL campaign Sunday in spectacular fashion.

The Chicago star struck perhaps the banger of the regular season, notching the game-winner — and only goal — in her side’s 1-0 victory over the Orlando Pride. The goal also earned her JWS Player of the Week honors.

Receiving the ball in the middle of the park, Pugh charged toward Orlando’s backline before letting off a top-shelf rocket for the go-ahead finish in the 10th minute.

Pugh’s worldie would’ve been reason enough to award the Red Stars striker Player of the Week, but her dazzling finish was just the cherry on top of a comprehensive performance.

In her 90 minutes on the pitch, Pugh created three chances as she pulled the strings on her team’s attack. She sits third in the NWSL in chances created, averaging 2.3 per match, so the game is increasingly on Pugh’s boot.

Pugh wasn’t just effective in the final third, either. She also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Present all over the pitch, Pugh tracked back to midfield, notching three recoveries and one block while winning 67 percent of her tackles.

The 24-year-old has never looked more confident, playing in the best form of her career, and USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski has taken notice, naming Pugh to the squad’s 23-player World Cup qualifying roster Monday.

“It will be extremely difficult for a player to come in and take their starting spot,” Andonovski said of Pugh and fellow winger Sophia Smith after the roster’s release.

Pugh’s return to form marks an impressive renaissance after she was left off the USWNT’s Olympic roster last summer. She took the snub as an opportunity to reclaim her place as the lead of the national team’s frontline.