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Sky Blue trades Mal Pugh and Sarah Woldmoe to Chicago

Personal factors influenced the trade, but it’s hard not to think Chicago won this one.

2020 SheBelieves Cup - United States v Japan Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The latest in offseason moves from Sky Blue comes today as they trade forward Mallory Pugh and midfielder Sarah Woldmoe for two 2021 NWSL college draft first-round picks, a conditional first-round pick in the 2022 draft, and international slots for 2021 and 2022. This comes on the heels of Sky Blue leaving emerging phenom midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe unprotected in the 2020 expansion draft, losing her to Louisville.

Sky Blue originally traded the Washington Spirit for Mal Pugh by giving up the 4th, 13th, and 17th overall picks in the 2020 draft, as well as first round pick in the 2021 draft. Washington used those picks on Ashley Sanchez, Natalie Jacobs, and Averie Collins respectively.

“Sarah has been an incredibly important part of Sky Blue for many years,” said General Manager Alyse LaHue in a club statement. “While it is terribly bittersweet that we must see her off, it was important for us to get her to her preferred location to be reunited with her husband and close to family. She has left her mark here at Sky Blue and we wish her nothing but utmost success and joy both on and off the pitch.”

“I am incredibly excited for the opportunity to play for the Chicago Red Stars,” said Pugh in a Red Stars press release. “The team has so many great players, including some of my USWNT teammates, and I can’t wait to join them and work hard to help the club bring home a championship. A huge thanks to the ownership and Coach Rory Dames for making this happen. I’ll see you all in the Windy City soon.”

Woldmoe has been a reliable central figure in Sky Blue’s midfield, able to shift from deep-lying playmaker and ball winner to higher attacking presence as needed. But as LaHue pointed out, she wasn’t entirely happy being separated from her family, which was a major factor in the trade. As for Pugh, she barely got minutes for Sky Blue this year due to an injury; now it seems Sky Blue isn’t willing to spend more time seeing if Pugh will gel with the team - or perhaps Pugh wanted a fresh start elsewhere - and will look to their existing attacking cohort as well as, perhaps, some draft picks.

The 2021 draft is, however, a somewhat uncertain proposition at this point. Though the NWSL has obtained a waiver from the NCAA allowing athletes to play out their spring college seasons instead of having to forgo them to declare for the draft, the NCAA’s decision to allow an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic may weaken the 2021 draft class.

This does feel like Chicago got the far, far better end of the trade stick, although it remains to be seen how Sky Blue is going to fill those international slots. They may also be counting heavily on the return of Carli Lloyd in 2021 as she returns from injury; the same goes for McCall Zerboni, who suffered a knee injury during the Challenge Cup and had to forgo the Fall Series as a result.

Let us know who you think won this trade in the comments!