Utah Royals trade with Chicago brings former BYU Cougar Michele Vasconcelos back home

Chicago Red Stars' Michele Vasconcelos kicks the ball as Washington Spirit forward Jordan Dibiasi, right, defends during the second half of an NWSL Challenge Cup soccer match at Zions Bank Stadium, Saturday, June 27, 2020, in Herriman, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Michele Vasconcelos is coming home.

The Sandy, Utah native who has spent the last three seasons with the Chicago Red Stars will join Utah Royals FC. The Royals traded for her in exchange for $55,000 in allocation money, the club announced Thursday.

Vasconcelos, in a video call with media, said she requested the trade from Chicago to Utah because it was beneficial for her family, especially because her 3-year-old daughter getting older.

“Each year we went, it got a little bit more difficult to take her away from family and everything," Vasconcelos said. "So as my husband and I talked, we’re like, ‘This is the best thing for us right now.’ Luckily [Chicago coach] Rory [Dames] was more than accommodating and made it happen.”

Vasconcelos played college soccer at BYU, where she scored 30 goals and added 27 assists in 64 starts. She played high school soccer at Alta High. She said Cougars coach Jen Rockwood already reached out to congratulate her.

In her time with the Red Stars, Vasconcelos started 15 out of 31 games played. She also played six games during the NWSL Challenge Cup, but those aren’t counted toward regular season standings. She scored three goals and notched three assists. Chicago drafted her 11th overall in the 2017 NWSL College Draft.

“Michele is a talented young forward with deep roots in this community and we are excited to have her as part of this club,” Royals general manager Stephanie Lee said in a statement.

Vasconcelos will reunite with Craig Harrington, but in a different capacity. Harrington was the assistant coach of the Red Stars before taking the head coaching job with the Royals before the 2020 season started.

“I’m excited to work with Craig again and kind of see how he is as a head coach,” Vasconcelos said. “I got the assistant coach taste, but I know it’s really different as a head coach.”

Vasconcelos comes to the Royals during a time when the club’s star forward, Christen Press, decided to leave the team and join Manchester United. She will compete for time with forwards Amy Rodriguez, Brittany Ratcliffe and Tziarra King.

Vasconcelos said she expects to play during the NWSL Fall Series. She recently recovered from an ACL injury and was cleared to play just before the Challenge Cup.