Utah Royals announced their first player acquisition on Wednesday. Midfielder Mikayla Cluff will join the Royals in their return to the NWSL in a trade with Orlando Pride. Utah will send $90,000 in allocation money and extend expansion protection to Orlando. Cluff is a Utah native and former BYU athlete. She was the No. 14 pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft. The NWSL expansion draft is scheduled for Dec. 15 and fans can watch the upcoming event on CBS Sports Network.
"While I've enjoyed my time in Orlando over the last two seasons, I'm extremely excited to return to play in my hometown and bring back this club for the state and for the fans," said Cluff, signed to Royals FC through 2025 and already back in Utah to prepare for the upcoming NWSL season. "I'm very thankful for my time with the Pride, and I wish them luck, but now I'm focused on working with the legend (Royals FC Head Coach) Amy Rodriguez to bring a championship to Utah."
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Cluff already has 51 NWSL appearances in her short career, with four goals and one assist while with Orlando Pride. While at BYU, Cluff racked up several accolades, including 2021 West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors and was named a Mac Hermman Trophy finalist. She helped lead the team to the 2021 NCAA Championship game before starting her professional career in NWSL.
"We're so excited to welcome Mikayla back to Utah," said Rodriguez. "A player who has had so much success in the state at both the collegiate and high school level and has now shown to be an excellent NWSL player. She offers versatility in the midfield, which is so valuable in an expansion year. When evaluating players, we also put a big emphasis on their character and Mikayla is a great first step in building the culture we want in our locker room. We know how much she is loved in this state, and we can't wait for our fans to cheer her on in Utah again."