As a third-round pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft, we weren’t sure how much playing time Michelle Maemone was going to get, or if she was going to get any at all. Laura Harvey has been known to trade her draft picks for proven players, so Maemone’s status on the team wasn’t clear until the start of the season.
In Utah Royals FC’s first game of the season, against the Washington Spirit at Rio Tinto Stadium, Michelle Maemone made her first start and appearance for the team. She Played for 63 minutes before being subbed out for Kelley O’Hara. She started across from Katie Bowen in place of Becca Moros, who was injured, even though the day before the season opener, she had a high fever.
She started a few more games during the season, but as the season progressed, she lost playing time due to multiple factors. Becca Moros returned from her injury. Harvey chose Sydney Miramontez to start instead of Maemone. Katie Bowen returned from the World Cup, and Mallory Weber was added to the roster and converted to an outside back. Then, Gunny Jonsdottir was moved to the backline for a couple of games.
Her last start was in the 1-0 win against Sky Blue FC on June 15th. She didn’t make another appearance until the final game of the season against the Houston Dash as a substitute. Overall, she had a great year as a rookie who surprised many as a reliable defender when needed.
She is expected to return for the 2020 season, as the club exercised the option on her contract this offseason. Her role next year is unknown, though, with multiple starters from the past two seasons returning. As of now, she’s an excellent choice off the bench and is a great choice to start when the team needs a solid defender.