One of the young phenoms of women’s soccer has decided to begin her career in France. Catarina Macario, who recently became an American citizen, has decided to forego the NWSL Draft and sign a 2.5 year deal with Olympique Lyonnais Féminin.
L’Olympique Lyonnais est très heureux d’annoncer l’arrivée de la milieu de terrain internationale américaine @catarinamacario, en provenance de l’équipe universitaire de Stanford, pour 2 saisons et demie, soit jusqu’au 30 juin 2023. #BienvenueCatarina pic.twitter.com/rlUdmgwajQ— OL Féminin (@OLfeminin) January 12, 2021
The 21-year-old Macario was widely considered to be the #1 pick in tomorrow’s NWSL Draft if she had opted to join the league. She recently declared her intent to leave the Stanford Cardinal with one year of eligibility remaining to turn pro, and Racing Louisville, who owns the #1 pick in the NWSL Draft, seemed poised to make her the main star in their lineup.
Instead, Catarina Macario heads to the European powerhouse Lyon, who have won 5 straight UEFA Women’s Champions Leagues (7 overall), 8 straight Coupe de France Féminine (9 overall), and 14 straight French league titles. Macario will be competing against some of the best players in the world for playing time. If she can star for Les Lyonnaises, she could become the go-to star for the United States Women’s National Team as we approach the 2023 World Cup.
“I kind of just decided that through the COVID uncertainty,” Macario said during media availability today at the USWNT’s January Camp. “I guess just presented to Stanford and Santa Clara county and the restrictions that we were facing, and I just wanted to have consistent playing. Especially ahead of the Olympics.”
Still, she’s ready for the challenge of playing for one of the best clubs in the world. “I think the best thing for me is to experience a new culture and learn from the best in the world. I know that in [Lyon] I’ll have resources that I can get in order to become the best player that I can be. I think spending two-and-a-half years there will really take me to the next level, I’m hoping.”
However, she didn’t rule out moving to NWSL at some point in the future. During USWNT media availability today, Macario said that if “we think it would be of mutual benefit to have me join OL Reign,” who is owned and operated by Olympique Lyonnais, she would love to play in the NWSL. “I’m not sure if it would come necessarily from that partnership, but will it happen one day? Yes.”
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