USWNT forward Mallory Pugh turns pro, won't join UCLA team

U.S. women's national team forward Mallory Pugh has left UCLA's soccer team to turn professional before ever playing in an official college game.

Pugh, 18, enrolled at UCLA and was set to play her freshman year this fall but announced Monday that she has decided to go pro.

She is already a regular starter with the U.S., scoring five goals in 22 games since her senior international debut in January 2016. She played at the Olympics last summer and scored in the group stage against Colombia.

"This decision was certainly not easy for me to make," Pugh said in a statement. "UCLA is such a special place, and being a Bruin was an incredible thing. UCLA Soccer brought amazing things to my life, and chasing after a national championship with my friends and teammates would've been special, but I could not turn down this opportunity.

"I want to thank my teammates, coaches, UCLA Athletics, and everyone else for the support I have behind me. I may have been here for a short time, but UCLA will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always be a Bruin."

If Pugh joins the National Women's Soccer League, she will have to go through an allocation process to land on a team, though Sports Illustrated reports she would also consider clubs in France.

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