Soccer

Ali Krieger, Mallory Pugh and four other players with D.C. ties to watch in the Women's World Cup

Ali Krieger, Mallory Pugh and four other players with D.C. ties to watch in the Women's World Cup

As the Women's World Cup gets underway in France, soccer fans won't have to look far for players with ties to the Washington area. 

Here's a guide to the women Washington fans should cheer for over the next month. 

1. Ali Krieger - D, United States

The veteran defender will be representing the United States in her third World Cup this summer. Born in Alexandria, Va., and raised in nearby Dumfries, Krieger left the Washington area to play collegiate soccer at Penn State.

She returned for much of her professional career, being allocated as one the first-ever Washington Spirit players in the inaugural season of the National Women's Soccer League. 

She played for the Spirit from 2013 until she was traded to the Orlando Pride in November of 2016. 

2. Mallory Pugh - F, United States

Poised to be a breakout star this summer in France, Pugh is only 21 years old, but has played with the senior U.S. Women's National Team since she was 17. 

She has scored 16 international goals in her career, including one in the 76th minute of the May 26th tune-up against Mexico. 

Pugh decided to forgo her college career at UCLA to begin her professional career in the NWSL with the Spirit.

Off the field, she is sponsored by companies like Nike and Gatorade. For a video that will give you chills before the World Cup kicks off, check out her latest ad for Nike.

3. Rose Lavelle - MF, United States

Another Washington Spirit player, Lavelle is the only name on this list likely to start for the USWNT. She's 24 years old and hails from the Cincinnati, Ohio.

The former Wisconsin Badger played exceptionally well in the 2018 CONCACAF Championship, scoring three goals in five games.

Like her teammate Pugh, she also scored in a recent friendly, finding the back of the net in the 40th minute against New Zealand on May 16. 

4. Chloe Logarzo - MF, Australia

Logarzo is one of a pair of Australian internationals that play for the Spirit.

In fact, she captained Australia's Under-20 team in 2013. And though she didn't make the senior national team in the 2015 Women's World Cup, she represented her country in the 2016 Rio Olympics. 

She has six international goals under her belt, the most memorable being against the United States in the 2018 Tournament of Nations. 

5. Amy Harrison - MF, Australia

A recent addition to the Spirit, Harrison is in her first season in Washington's midfield. She and Logarzo were teammates at Sydney FC prior to arriving in the NWSL.

She has made five career appearances with the Matildas prior to this summer's World Cup. 

6. Cheyna Matthews - F, Jamaica

Born in Massachusetts, Matthews was actually a member of the United States under-23 team, but was chosen to represent Jamaica at the World Cup in May of 2019.

She was drafted out of Florida State University by the Spirit in the 2016 College Draft. Returning after a year off on maternity leave, Matthews has tallied two goals and an assist in four starts for Washington so far this season. 

MORE SOCCER NEWS: 

The Big Twenty: DC United wins MLS Cup

The Big Twenty: DC United wins MLS Cup

For the next three weeks, NBC Sports Washington will be rolling out the 20 biggest stories in DMV sports in the past 20 years. Here is No. 19.

A new phenom. A new coach. A renewed hope that DC United could return to glory and capture their first MLS Cup title since 1999.

That is exactly what transpired as the 2004 MLS season brought the fourth championship in team history to DC United.

The offseason started with the departure of Ray Hudson behind the bench, replaced by retired Chicago Fire star Peter Nowak. One of the best players in the early days of MLS, Nowak had retired from playing in 2002 before taking a job in the Chicago front office. When DCU’s ownership came calling, Nowak jumped at the chance to take over the most highly-decorated team in the league’s young history.

In the same month that Nowak took the helm, DC United brought 14-year-old phenom Freddy Adu aboard, becoming the youngest American to ever sign a contract in any professional league. The youngster carried plenty of hype into his first professional season and finished third on the team with five goals while playing in every match.

The retirement of longtime club legend, and last remaining member of the inaugural 1996 team, Marco Etcheverry at the end of the 2003 season brought an end to the initial Golden Age of DC United when the club collected eight trophies across all competitions in the first three years of its existence. 2004 marked the start of a second golden age with the team winning another four trophies to add to the trophy case in the next four years.

The regular season started slowly for United with a 5-8-6 record in the first 19 games of the season. The team rebounded in August and rode a 6-2-3 close to the season to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Forwards Alecko Eskandarian and Jaime Moreno shouldered the scoring load for the Black-and-Red with 10 and seven goals respectively as DC got set for a Conference Semifinal matchup with the New York/New Jersey Metrostars in the first round of the postseason.

United ran through the MetroStars with back-to-back 2-0 victories, booking its place in the Eastern Conference Final with the New England Revolution. A riveting back-and-forth game saw United take the lead three separate times only for the Revolution to equalize thrice themselves. All level at three after 90 minutes and extra time, the game was decided in the first-ever penalty shootout in MLS history. In the sudden-death sixth round, United’s Brian Carroll scored and goalkeeper Nick Rimando saved a Clint Dempsey penalty to advance to the club’s fifth MLS Cup in the first nine years of the league.

Kansas City Wizards emerged from the Western Conference to face the Black-and-Red in MLS Cup 2004 played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Kansas City took an early lead before DC scored three goals in seven minutes and held on for the fourth title in the club’s eight-year history, and to date, the last time the club has lifted the MLS Cup.

Washington Spirit trade USWNT forward Mallory Pugh for draft picks

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Washington Spirit trade USWNT forward Mallory Pugh for draft picks

The Washington Spirit traded U.S. Women's National Team forward Mallory Pugh to Sky Blue FC on Thursday.

In the deal, the Spirit received the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's NWSL draft, which they used to select UCLA junior forward Ashley Sanchez. The Spirit also acquired the No. 4 and No. 8 picks of the second round and a 2021 first-rounder.

Washington initially announced that the trade was for a "player to be named later." A post on the team's Twitter account thanking Pugh eventually confirmed the news.

"Thank you @MalPugh for everything you have done for the club and this city. Best of luck with @SkyBlueFC," read the tweet.

Pugh, 21, played in 19 games with seven starts for the U.S. national team in 2019, and her six goals tied for fifth on the team. She made three appearances and scored one goal with one assist as the U.S. claimed gold in the World Cup. She had 10 goals and four assists in three seasons with the Spirit.

Like Pugh, Sanchez is also a member of the USWNT program. After being selected on Thursday, she said the process of turning pro was stressful.

"It was a little stressful, but I'm just really excited," Sanchez said. "This is what I've always dreamed about. And to be at a team like Washington, it's really humbling."

Sanchez led UCLA with 15 assists in the 2019 season, tying her own school single-season record from the previous season, and she was second on the team with seven goals. Sanchez is UCLA’s all-time assists leader with 42 and was a 2018 first-team All-American.

"Ashley is one of the most dynamic players to ever play at UCLA," said UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell. "It's remarkable that she broke our career assists record as a junior. We know Ashley's success as a Bruin will help her in her endeavors as a professional and national team member. We are excited for her future and wish her the best of luck."

In the second round, the Spirit drafted USC's Natalie Jacobs and Washington State's Averie Collins. They drafted Kansas' Katie McClure in the third round and Sanchez's UCLA teammate Kaiya McCullough in the fourth.