In January, Madison Pogarch didn’t project as somebody who’d be getting time with one of her national teams by summer’s end. She had just completed her career at Rutgers and had gone unselected in the NWSL College Draft. It wasn’t a fairytale start.
But undrafted success has become part of life around Portland Thorns FC. Ask Celeste Boureille (2016’s draft year). Or Kelli Hubly (2017). Or Elizabeth Ball and Simone Charley (2018). Pogarch is the latest in a line of players who have come to Portland and transcended expectations. Turns out being undrafted doesn’t matter when a coach has to fill out a lineup card.
Pogarch has already made her first professional start and has appeared in two other NWSL games, though her biggest achievement of 2019 may have come outside the Thorns’ system. During the last international break, “Po” (as she prefers to be called) received a call-up from the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team, who trained in England around three games at the 2019 Nordic Tournament.
On Monday, ThornsFC.com caught up with Pogarch to talk about her 2019, though question one tackled something far more important.
ThornsFC.com: So … what are the rules when somebody wants to call you Madison, Maddie, or Po? In what worlds are you each?
Madison: Whew. Well, Madison is when I’m in trouble. So, that’s few and far between. (Laughs.) It’s usually when it’s my Mom. So, yeah: with my Mom, it’s usually Madison.
Maddie is mostly family and people that I knew growing up. Sometimes, when I’m just meeting people, they feel uncomfortable calling me Po. So, they try to be appropriate and call me Maddie.
But it’s usually Po. I always introduce myself as Po, so that’s kind of just how it goes.
ThornsFC.com: You just got back from England. How did that go for you, and were you surprised when you got the call from [the U.S. U-23s]?
Maddie: I wouldn’t say surprised, but I was definitely grateful. It was a super-cool opportunity, something that I’ve been waiting for, for a couple of years. So, I kind of felt like it was about time, when I got it. I was confident but super grateful for it, anyway.
It was a great experience to be able to play. There were 16 people from the league that went, so to be able to know them, play with them, learn different styles that they put into their game as opposed to being with the Thorns, it helped grow my soccer game. Playing with them, as well – playing at the level of talent – was awesome. It was a great experience.
ThornsFC.com: Overall, your 2019, the entire scope of it: How do you feel your first year as a pro has gone?
Po: It’s been a dream. It really has been. It’s been everything that I would have hoped for.
Not getting drafted was a big of a disappointment, but I think it worked out for me in the best possible way. I got to come to this amazing club with amazing staff, amazing support, atmosphere, the community around it, the players, the coaches, everyone. It’s super supportive, and I don’t think that I would be called up to the national team if I didn’t have this opportunity.