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Utah Royals FC Signs Sandy Native Michelle Vasconcelos Via NWSL Free Agency

November 21, 2023 - National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) - Utah Royals News Release


HERRIMAN, Utah - Utah Royals FC today added Utah native Michele Vasconcelos to its expansion 2024 roster via free agency, as the one-time Alta High School standout becomes the second former BYU star to now call Utah her NWSL home, joining MF Mikayla Cluff. Vasconcelos was selected 11th overall in the NWSL Draft by Chicago in 2017, and has played 47 games in the NWSL over the last six seasons for Chicago, Kansas City and Portland, a total which includes one game during the NWSL Fall 2020 series for the earlier iteration of Utah Royals FC.

"As I come back to Utah, for sure excitement is my main feeling, but I'm also feeling a ton of relief - I was devastated when the team left three years ago, as I'd only been back here a month," said Vasconcelos, amidst her family's relocation from Portland to Utah ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. "I grew up in Sandy, in the shadow of the Royals / RSL stadium. Now coming back for the second time around, it really feels too good to be true, now I really have the chance to live out my dream.

Utah Royals FC are set to return to the NWSL as a 2024 expansion side, along with Northern California's Bay FC. The 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft, presented by Ally, is set to be held on Friday, Dec. 15, beginning at 5:00 p.m. MT, with Utah Royals FC currently slated to select No. 2 overall. Fans can watch LIVE on CBS Sports Network as the two expansion sides can select up to 12 players each, with additional coverage via CBS Sports Golazo and the "Attacking Third" show & social accounts. Details regarding January's NWSL draft will soon be unveiled at www.NWSL.com.

"I know A-Rod (URFC Head Coach Amy Rodriguez) very well from our time in Kansas City, and talking to her now I can tell she means business," continued Vasconcelos. "Her vision for this Club is exciting, she's the perfect one for the job, with a super-aggressive, no-nonsense approach to team-building, as you might expect.

"It is incredibly exciting to see what is happening here in the early days of the roster coming together; DF Kaleigh Riehl and I were in a U.S. camp together for the U-23s just 4 months after I had my daughter, and of course I know FW Mikayla Cluff - we never played together at BYU, but as alumni of course we became instant friends.

"My family has been super-excited for this move - I have two nephews already playing in the RSL Academy right now, actually - so we will all be out in Herriman together every day at those amazing facilities. Across the NWSL the resources for the players are getting better every year, but to see what we already have at our disposal and now taking it to another level? The perception moving forward for what the new ownership is willing to provide has everyone full of awe; actions speak louder than words but as long as we keep going in this direction, we will keep setting the standard.

"Simply put, I love Utah. The organization is moving full-steam ahead, the new foundation for this version of the Royals is so so amazing for all of Women's Soccer. Now the focus is on building up that core even better, as we keep going Utah will surely be a place people across the industry and the world will want to be.

"I am so passionate about Utah, so excited to elevate this Royals FC project together, I can't wait to see all the fans and partnering every day with the Club and the community to grow and connect. Insanely happy to be home."

Eighteen months ago, Vasconcelos returned to the NWSL, signing with Portland Thorns FC in July, 2022, as a national team replacement player, appearing in five games and scoring once for the Thorns in the 2022/23 NWSL seasons. Her return stateside arrived following a KC Current loan to Spanish side Sevilla FC, where the Sandy native played 22 games, scoring two goals.

Vasconcelos was born and raised in Sandy, Utah, and was named the Gatorade Utah Soccer Player of the Year during her Senior 2011-12 season. After leaving Alta High, the former Michele Murphy spent four years with the BYU Cougars in nearby Provo, setting records with 30 goals and 27 assists across 70 career games, numbers which remain as top-10 all-time marks at BYU. Michele earned West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors during her senior season in 2016.

After giving birth to daughter Scarlett in 2017, Vasconcelos appeared in 31 matches with 15 starts, along with three goals and three assists during the 2018 and 2019 seasons in Chicago, the 2019 and 2020 seasons affected by an ACL/meniscus injury.

"Bringing Michele home marks yet another critical development as we build out the 2024 roster," said URFC Sporting Director Kelly Cousins. "Michele has experienced quite the circuitous route in this league since her BYU success, and her time in Spain. We are elated to truly welcome her home - FINALLY! - and we know our fans cannot wait to fill America First Field and cheer on Utah's own, as we look forward to several more player announcements in the coming days and weeks."

TRANSACTION: Utah Royals FC signs FW Michele Vasconcelos as an NWSL Free Agent for the 2024/25 seasons.

KEY UPCOMING NWSL DATES:

Sun, Nov. 19 - NWSL Trade Window Closes - Announcements must be made prior to 3 p.m. ET on Mon., Nov. 20

Mon., Nov. 20 - NWSL Free Agency Opens

Tues., Nov. 21 - Waiver Wire Commences

Wed., Nov. 22 - Waiver Wire Concludes

Tues., Dec. 12 - Transaction Moratorium Begins - Protected/Unprotected player lists distributed to Utah Royals FC / Bay FC

Fri., Dec. 15 - Expansion Draft

Sat., Dec. 16 - Transaction Moratorium Ends

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