Mal Pugh and her Chicago Red Stars are preparing for a trip to the NWSL postseason. But the 23-year-old American winger took a slight detour ahead of her quarterfinal showdown against Carli Lloyd and Gotham FC on Sunday in Chicago. Pugh was in Houston on Tuesday, watching her boyfriend win the World Series.
Pugh has dated Atlanta Baseball Team shortstop Dansby Swanson since 2017. Swanson hit a two-run homer and fielded the final out as Atlanta beat Houston 7-0 in Game 6 to win the World Series 4-2, a victory that pleased Will Ferrell and Jason Sudeikis. Pugh took a break from playoff preparations to watch the series clinching win on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, less than a mile from PNC Stadium, where the Houston Dash call home.
After the game, Pugh joined Swanson on the field to celebrate the Atlanta Baseball Team’s first title since 1995. The moment Pugh met Swanson after the game was captured on camera and Pugh posted the endearing video to Instagram.
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Pugh and Swanson appear to be — based their Instagram feeds — an adorable couple. Now it’s Swanson’s turn to become the fan as Pugh’s Red Stars begin postseason play on Sunday.
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Pugh, who was a member of the 2016 Olympic squad at the age of 18, fell out of favor with the USWNT after the 2019 Women’s World Cup and missed the Tokyo Olympics. Injuries played some part in that — she appeared just once for Sky Blue in 2020 — but she’s revitalized her career in 2021 with the Red Stars. In addition to tallying four goals and four assists, she returned to the national team in October and was one of the team’s most exciting attacking players.
Now looking like the player USWNT fans thought she could be when she made her international debut at 17, she could accomplish something her Chicago teammate Julie Ertz never could: win a league title in the same year as her partner.
Back in 2018, Julie Ertz watched as her husband Zach Ertz won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. Later that year, Julie Ertz and her Red Stars fell short of a league title, losing in the semifinals to eventual champion N.C. Courage.
Now Pugh and Swanson have a chance to pull off the power couple double.
Chicago will have to go through a tough route to win the NWSL Championship, and our predictions have the Red Stars going out in the quarterfinals. First up is Gotham FC, which is fighting to help Carli Lloyd win her first club championship in her long career before she retires at the end of the season. After that would be the Portland Thorns, who claimed the NWSL Shield. And in the final? Probably the hottest team in the league right now, OL Reign and its cadre of loan players from Lyon.
Many of the Red Stars have championship-caliber partners at their sides. In addition to Ertz and Pugh, Kealia Watt’s husband J.J. Watt is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year but has never won a Super Bowl because he played for the Houston Texans until this season.
Pugh winning an NWSL Championship after Swanson won the World Series would be a great way to cap the year for the couple. I was a bit disappointed Swanson didn’t propose to Pugh after he won the World Series like fellow shortstop Carlos Correa did when the Astros won the World Series in 2017, but maybe Pugh will propose to Swanson if she is able to win a league title on Nov. 20.