Utah Royals get another former BYU star

Michele Vasconcelos returns for her second stint with the Royals.

(Photo courtesy of Utah Royals FC) Michele Vasconcelos.

The first time Michele Vasconcelos joined the Utah Royals FC, she was only on the squad a few months before the team was sold and moved to Kansas City.

This time, the Royals hope the former BYU star and Sandy native can stay longer.

URFC announced Tuesday that it signed Vasconcelos, who was an unrestricted free agent, for the 2024 and 2025 National Women’s Soccer League seasons. She last played for the Portland Thorns, where she spent the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

“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,” Vasconcelos said in a news release. “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.”

Vasconcelos first came to the Royals via trade in 2020 during the pandemic-shortened season. She requested a trade from the Chicago Red Stars to be closer to her family.

Vasconcelos played for the Kansas City Current until September 2021, when she went on loan to Sevilla FC, a first-division women’s team in Spain. She signed with Portland in July 2022 two weeks after the Current waived her.

Vasconcelos and Royals coach Amy Rodriguez played together in Kansas City. She said in the release that Rodriguez “means business” and is “the perfect one for the job, with a super-aggressive, no-nonsense approach to team-building.”

Vasconcelos also has ties to some of the other players Utah has picked up during the offseason. She has gotten to know former BYU player Mikayla Cluff over the years even though they never played together, she said. She also played on a U-23 team at a U.S. camp with Kaleigh Riehl.