Waived by Portland, Mallory Weber finding a home with Utah Royals FC

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Portland Thorns FC forward Mallory Weber (26) and Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn (4) go for the ball, in soccer action between Utah Royals FC and Portland Thorns FC, at Rio Tinto Stadium, Saturday, April 28, 2018.

Sandy • At the beginning of the month, Mallory Weber lived in Portland. She had built a life and a home there with her dog, Meeko, and played for the Thorns for the past three years — the entirety of her National Women’s Soccer League career.

Then in one moment, her life changed in an instant. The Thorns waived Weber and it would be an excruciating 48 hours until she knew where her career would take her next, if anywhere at all.

“It’s just something that comes out of nowhere without much explanation,” Weber recently told The Salt Lake Tribune.

But Laura Harvey and the Utah Royals FC were waiting in the wings to pick up the Novi, Mich., native. The Royals signed Weber about two weeks ago to replace Taylor Lytle and Brittany Ratcliffe, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries.

Weber made her season debut on the road in the late stages of the tie with North Carolina and also played 23 minutes in the win over the Orlando Pride. It’s only been two games, but so far, so good.

“I think that for Mal, she’s fitted in seamlessly, honestly, and works hard every day in training,” Harvey said of Weber. “She’s a fantastic teammate and a really easy person to coach, honestly. It’s been a seamless transition to bring her into this group.”

Weber started 21 of 45 games for Portland and scored one goal in her three-plus seasons there. She even won an NWSL title there in 2017. But her departure left a bitter taste in her mouth. By the end of her tenure, she had lost confidence in herself as a player, she said.

But since arriving in Salt Lake City — she drove herself and Meeko from Portland — and joining the Royals, her spirits have risen. She’s been impressed by the twice-daily meals provided to the players, the furnished apartments, the team vehicles and the setup in the team locker room. In Portland, she thought the Thorns set the standard for how an organization treats its professional women’s soccer players. Her opinion has since changed.

“This is above and beyond that,” Weber said of URFC’s amenities.

Weber said the most difficult aspect of being waived by Portland was having to leave her teammates, who had become close friends during the time she spent with the Thorns. So far in Salt Lake, it appears she is on the path to making new friends with those on the Royals roster.

“The team has been really welcoming and supportive and I’m actually very happy that Utah picked me up and that I’m here,” Weber said.

With six Royals players on international duty for the upcoming Women’s World Cup, Weber has a good opportunity to not only break the rotation, but perhaps earn starts as well. And while just a few weeks ago she didn’t know whether or not she would be out of the league, she is relishing the opportunity to make URFC her new home.

“To wait those 48 hours to see what was going to happen was probably the most stressful thing I’ve been through in my career so far,” Weber said. “But totally worth the wait and I think this is a better place for me to be to push my career soccer-wise, for sure.”


At Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.

Kickoff » Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT


Last meeting » URFC 1, Washington 0 (April 20, Rio Tinto Stadium)

Records » URFC 4-1-1, Washington 4-1-1

About Washington » Amy Harrison’s two assists leads team. … Spirit have scored 10 goals this season and allowed only four. … Has not lost a home game the season (two wins, one draw). … Audrey Bledsoe leads league with 26 saves. … Five players away on international duty.

About URFC » Amy Rodriguez leads team with four goals. … Tied with Washington in league points (13). … Scored to goals for the first time this season against Orlando. … Has allowed the least amount of goals (3) in the league. ... Goalkeeper Melissa Lowder and midfielder Alexa Newfield were signed to national team replacement contracts.