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Before Team USA kicks, learn more about “next big thing” Mallory Pugh

Ireland v United States

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23: Mallory Pugh #22 of the United States is defended by Denise O’Sullivan #10 and Louise Quinn #4 of Ireland as the United States won 5-0 at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

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Mallory Pugh hasn’t even started college and is a pivotal piece of Team USA’s attempt to win its fifth Olympic gold in women’s soccer.

The 18-year-old California born forward is incredible with the ball, and already has a trio of international goals to go with seven assists in 14 caps.

But this tournament could really see her star rise in the United States, and Noah Davis has a piece in The New Yorker entitled, “The Next Great American Soccer Star”.

Yep, it’s about her. And it’s likely to become more about her, something she’ll need to get used to:

Recently, when she was at the mall with a couple of school friends, a man working at one of the kiosks ran over and requested a picture. “I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ ” she said. “He was really nice about it. All my friends have said it’s weird for them when we’re in public and I get stopped. I tell them that it’s really weird for me.”

Pugh and the Yanks face New Zealand at 6 p.m. EDT. Watch her silky moves on display via the NBCOlympics.com link below.

WATCH: New Zealand vs Team USA on NBCOlympics.com

Follow @NicholasMendola