The United States women’s national team released the Olympic qualifying roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics. This roster required three players to be cut from the World Cup Roster, bringing it down to 20. With Alex Morgan announcing her pregnancy, that allowed for a little bit of room to cut. However, fans were shocked when the roster was released and the young fan-favorite, Mallory Pugh, was left off the roster in favor of Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams.
Let’s break down the statistics from the USWNT and the National Women’s Soccer League between Pugh, Williams and McDonald:
In the NWSL, Pugh has struggled keeping her minutes of play. In the 2019 season, Pugh only saw 765 minutes played as opposed to her 1,082 minutes in 2018 and 1,203 in her first season. With the decreasing minutes and only nine starts in 2019, her number of goals scored saw a hit. Pugh went from scoring six goals in her first NWSL season to scoring only two goals and two assists in the 2019 season.
But performing at a national league level is not the same as performing at the international level. While Pugh’s performance at the national league is taken into consideration, the statistics of her international time are not ignored in determining whether or not she should have a spot on the roster. With a total of 62 caps, Pugh has scored 18 goals since starting on the USWNT in 2016.
Pugh has had trouble staying healthy throughout her seasons in the NWSL as well as the USWNT. Between a strained right hamstring in 2017 that took her out for six weeks, a ligament sprain in her right knee in 2018 and a hip injury in 2019, Pugh has been battling injuries for the majority of her professional career.
With veteran status in the NWSL, McDonald, got her start on the USWNT later than most. Not getting her first call up until 2016 at the age of 28. However, her age doesn’t stop her from dominating the national league. With 11 starts, 16 games played and a total of 1,031 minutes played in the 2019 season, McDonald helped lead the North Carolina Courage to the championship with six goals and three assists.
However, her performance in the national league has not translated, completely, to the international games. Within three years, McDonald has had 14 caps and only scored two goals. It leaves the question: Can she perform at the international level the same way she does in the national league?”
Williams has without a doubt rose to fame in the NWSL. Ranked number two on the list of players, only falling behind Australia’s Sam Kerr. Williams has acquired 2,052 minutes in the 2019 season with 23 starts out of 24 games played. Out of those games, she has scored 12 goals and assisted others six times. However, with 99 shots and only 48 on target, that number seems less impressive. Overall, Williams is a solid player on offense and defense and it translates to international play.
Acquiring 21 caps and six goals, Williams’ average goals per games equals about 0.29 each game, equaling out to about the same as Pugh. However, Williams performance in a total of only 90 minutes, having more experience in the game and her ability to stay healthy, gives her the competitive edge.
Whether or not Mallory Pugh deserved a spot on the roster, the fact remains that head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, had the hard decision of cutting 23 players down to 20. With the current roster, the average age of the team is 29. While Pugh could have added a younger body to the field, only time will tell if Andonovski’s choices will pay off at the 2020 Summer Olympics.