SANDY — Through her first three seasons in the National Women’s Soccer League, Mallory Weber played in 44 games for Portland Thorns FC with 12 starts, eight of which she had gone all 90-plus minutes in. Then as the 2019 campaign began, she was designated a substitute in each of Portland’s first three contests, although she logged just one minute of action.
That’s not the most gaudy resume, to be sure, but it was enough to leave her stunned when, in May, Portland waived her.
Unsure what would happen next in her career, Weber took a trip to the Oregon Coast to try to relax while her agent contacted teams and the waiver process ran its course. Ultimately, Utah Royals FC announced on May 13 that it had acquired the forward off waivers as it placed Taylor Lytle on the season-ending injury list.
Weber appeared in her first game for URFC six days later, playing the final eight minutes of a high-pressure contest against the North Carolina Courage that ended in a 1-1 draw. Since then, URFC head coach Laura Harvey has called upon her in each of the last four games.
“Honestly, just a fresh start,” Weber said of her mindset coming to Utah. “Being somewhere for three years, you kind of get in a routine, whether it be good or bad. Coming out here with a new coach, new players, fresh style and mindset was kind of like being a rookie again, coming in with no expectations and just the mindset to go prove yourself and take it each day as much as you can.”
Last weekend, Weber made her first start in a URFC uniform on the road against, of course, the PTFC team that had let her go. With the game not set to start until 8 p.m. local time, she acknowledged it was a long day leading up to it, but she was grateful for the warm reception she received from the ever-present Portland crowd.
“I was really pleased with the timing of it, that I was able to start and play for Laura the best way that I could,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. A lot of mixed emotions after, but it was really fun. I really enjoyed it.”
As it has happened, Weber has risen to the task of what Harvey envisioned her role could be as a player who can contribute in a variety of situations. Besides the debut against North Carolina and the start against Portland, Weber has played the last 23 minutes of two games and 55 in another after Vero Boquete got hurt and had to come off.
“I knew Mal could play a role in this team, whether off the bench, starting some games, close games out for us, set the tone in games, and I think she’s played her role so far really well,” Harvey said.
Added midfielder Mandy Laddish: “She came in and she’s a fighter, man. She’s going to work hard for you. You know that if she’s next to you that she’s going to do the work that she needs to do, and it’s so nice to have someone that’s so reliable on the field because that’s something you just don’t have to worry about.”Comment on this story
Moving forward, Weber recognizes it will soon be tougher to crack the starting lineup as players return from the World Cup, but she’s prepared to do all she can to help URFC hover near the top of the NWSL table.
“I think just pushing the players around me and trying to push into the (starting lineup) or coming off the bench,” she said. “Especially as players start to get back, just keep focusing on me and being the best I can be for the team. That usually gets me the best possible outcome.”