CHICAGO – She had an answer ready to go for the question she got during her Zoom news conference on Thursday morning.
That’s because Mallory Pugh has already given it to her Red Stars teammate earlier in the week.
“I was actually talking to Morgan (Gautrat) yesterday about it,” said the forward, who was asked a question about what’s helped her find success with the club since arriving in 2021.
In her regular season NWSL debut for the club last Sunday, she had two goals and an assist in the second half as a sub in a 4-2 win over the Orlando Pride, That came after being out of the lineup for about a month with a concussion suffered late in the Challenge Cup, where she had four goals before the injury.
She’ll try to add to that when the Red Stars host the Portland Thorns Saturday at SeatGeek Stadium at 7 PM
That was preceded by Pugh’s first season with the Red Stars in 2021 when she was an NWSL MVP finalist with five goals and four assists across all competitions. So what answer did she give to the question and to Gautrat?
“Last year I felt very welcomed by all of the players, so I feel like it was kind of an easier transition for me than past clubs that I’ve been at, so I think that definitely helped,” said Pugh. “I think, too, just being able to find my game again, my confidence in myself, and confidence in who I am as a person and on the field, too.
“I think it’s all just kinda come full circle.”
It’s been easy to see for the team and supporters in Pugh’s time with the club where she’s scored 11 goals with five assists across all competitions. Manager Chris Petrucelli has only worked with her in training and games since taking over in February, but has already given high praise to the forward for her attitude and play.
“Mal plays with a joy that is just fun to watch,” said Petrucelli of Pugh. “When she’s playing her best, she’s enjoying herself, she’s happy, she’s making other people happy. She’s very easy to work with. She’s not over-demanding of anybody, but she wants to be the best and she continues to work hard to be the best.”
Already, Petrucelli believes that she’s reached that level.
“Quite frankly, I think she’s the best player in the league,” said Petrucelli. “There’s nobody I’d rather have, honestly, and so I’m lucky that I get a chance to work with her and really enjoying it.”