Mackenzie Arnold announces huge career move amid sad detail around Matildas hero's partner

The Matildas keeper has signed for American club Portland Thorns.

Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold has signed for American club Portland Thorns in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) as she sets out on the next chapter of her playing career. Arnold will join the American side following the Olympics and is expected to be their first-choice keeper.

Arnold has been in the NWSL once before, with the Chicago Stars in 2019, but did not play a game. She has signed a deal that runs until the end of 2026, with a mutual option for 2027.

"Since the beginning, this club has prioritised competition across all our positions, aiming to create teams that can compete each and every year at the highest level and win championships," general manager and president of soccer operations Karina LeBlanc said. "Mackenzie is someone we identified earlier this year as a player that could help elevate our goalkeeper group.

Pictured Mackenzie Arnold left and right with partner Kirsty Smith
The Matildas keeper has signed for American club Portland Thorns after leaving West Ham, the team where she met and played alongside her partner. Image: Getty/Instagram

"She is a highly decorated international goalkeeper, with experience on the world's biggest stages. We believe her addition will make our goalkeeper unit stronger, our team better and help us achieve our championship-winning goals."

It comes after earlier this month the 30-year-old announced she had parted ways with English football side West Ham United. Leaving the Women's Premier League team was a difficult decision especially since she had to leave behind partner Kirsty Smith, who has also played with West Ham since 2021.

Smith is remaining at West Ham for the 2024/25 season after signing a new deal with the Irons at the end of June. After Arnold announced she was leaving West Ham, Smith took to Instagram to write: "What am I going to do without you? Proud of you and can't wait to watch you shine."

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Arnold met Smith when the Scottish defender signed with West Ham in 2021 and the pair confirmed their relationship on Instagram in March 2023 with a carousel of sweet photos together. And she took to Instagram to share a touching message after leaving West Ham.

“This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make and I wanted to have the opportunity to say goodbye properly, whilst also looking back on the incredible time I have had in the famous Claret and Blue,” Arnold wrote in an Instagram post after announcing she was leaving West Ham. “It’s been nearly four years to the day since I arrived at Chadwell Heath and it didn’t take me long to realise how special this club was and how at home I felt in east London.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Mackenzie Arnold and Kirsty Smith of West Ham United celebrate following the team's victory during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Bristol City and West Ham United at Ashton Gate Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Ben Hoskins - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
Mackenzie Arnold and Kirsty Smith celebrate West Ham's victory over Bristol City.

“My time here has helped to shape me as a player but also, more importantly, as a person and I have a lot to thank West Ham for that. I want you to know how difficult a decision it has been for me to leave a place that means so much to me. I am a proud Aussie, but there is no question that, in east London, I have found a place where I will always call home.

“I have been lucky enough to play football in many different countries, but I am so grateful to have had this chapter at a club that means so much to me. West Ham will always hold a special place in my heart, forever Claret & Blue.”

with AAP