Before Utah Royals FC became a franchise, Mandy Laddish had won two NWSL Championships in 2014 and 2015 with FC Kansas City. In her time with Kansas City, Laddish made 39 appearances, scoring 1 goal. But her career in KC would come to a halt after the 2016 season - a hip injury would sideline her for two years.
Two surgeries later, Mandy Laddish returned to the pitch on April 20, 2019, playing 11 minutes in the 1-0 victory over the Washington Spirit, receiving a thunderous ovation.
Last year, RSL Soapbox writer RJ Allen wrote:
Players play hurt. More than they should. More than we know. But the type of hurt Laddish suffered for two seasons meant she couldn’t play at all. But in 2019, we were able to see her step up to the 4th official and step on a field and kick a ball. We were able to see flashes of the player that was so important for FC Kansas City, who had such promise once upon a time come back.
Laddish ended up playing a total of 632 minutes in 11 games for Utah, contributing to a center midfield that was missing Desiree Scott who was at the World Cup. Her ability to connect passes and provide a defensive edge was greatly needed during a pivotal year of international players’ absences.
Unfortunately, Laddish suffered another hip injury that summer of 2019, sidelining her once again and leading to her retirement.
“A career that ends due to injury is nothing short of heartbreaking. I am not the first, and I won’t be the last. It is the nature of our sport and it is the risk we take in hopes of achieving our dreams. Although it’s ending sooner than I’d like, my career was nothing short of extraordinary and I loved every minute of it,” Laddish said in a press release.
Laddish had a promising career ended short by an unfortunate injury, but Utah will always remember her inspirational return in 2019.