Making $16,000 a year, fifth-year pro Evans retires

Maddy Evans achieved her dream, making it as a pro soccer player in the NWSL, despite going in the fourth round of the inaugural college draft and not being signed out of training camp.

But in her fifth season and making only $16,000 a year, Evans retired as a member of the Orlando Pride.

“My decision wasn’t made on one or two things," Evans said after her final game on Saturday. "It was made on a bunch of different things, but I’m 26, turning 27, and I make $16,000 a year playing in this league and I'm in my fifth season."

Evans (née Whitney) captained Penn State to the 2012 NCAA final and was taken by the Boston Breakers in the 2013 college draft. She wasn't a star but was good enough to play three seasons for the Breakers and two for the Pride, which joined the NWSL in 2016. She also spent the last offseason with the Brisbane Roar in Australia.

Evans isn't the first NWSL player to retire at the peak of her career. FC Kansas City won league titles in 2014 and 2015 but lost defenders Leigh Ann Robinson and Amy LePeilbet and midfielders Lauren Holiday and Jen Buczkowski to retirement, and it hasn't been the same since.

With the 2017 salary cap at $315,000 -- salaries for allocated players are paid for by U.S. Soccer -- and maximum and minimum salaries at $41,700 and $15,000 (up from $7,200), it is hard for players to commit to pro soccer for the long term.
"I think that obviously it’s gotten better every single year," said Evans, who holds two college degrees. "Unfortunately, it just didn’t kind of caught up with where I needed to be.”

She said her goal for the NWSL is that in 10 years players who are in their late 20s can stay in the league. But she could not wait that long.

"I look at where I want to be in three years," she said, "and being here unfortunately isn't getting me there."

Saturday's final match -- a 5-0 win over Sky Blue FC -- was an emotional evening for Evans. Pride fans chanted her name in the 18th minute -- honoring her number -- and star Marta came over and kissed her to celebrate her first goal, whispering to her, "I love you."

When Jasmyne Spencer was fouled for a penalty kick in the 66th minute with the score at 5-0, Marta gave Evans the ball to take the penalty kick. Sky Blue keeper Kailen Sheridan stopped the shot -- "I thought she could do me a solid," Evans joked afterwards -- but the first missed PK in her career could not take away from what Evans' time in Orlando has meant to her.

“This club and this organization and these fans," she said, "it’s a dream to play here. It’s incredible. Even when, say, you’re not getting the minutes that you want or whatever, you’re having a bad day, you need to look at what we have here and it’s absolutely unbelievable.”
15 comments about "Making $16,000 a year, fifth-year pro Evans retires".
  1. Nick Daverese, August 16, 2017 at 7:18 a.m.

    Hey she still lived the dream. I scouted for the A league team in States Island and we had no shortage of players from here and Europe trying out. Why, they all wanted to live the dream. There were kids in England going to university who just left to tryout with us. College is the dream of the parents. The players dream us to play pro some where. Yes the moneys crap but there are perks. Need a job to supplement your income the club could get you a job with a club sponsor. Get the parents of newly arrived immigrants. You get time off to practice. If you are a star like Donadoni get ferr hous free car money a lot over the salary cap because he owned his own rights. In the old days you saw all pro's in the NFL waiting tables in restraunts. Famaous Singers with hit records working in the uncles fruit store in the summer.

  2. Tim Gibson, August 16, 2017 at 9:23 a.m.

    I'm not so sure this would be considered living the dream mate? Especially when working part time @ McDonalds would pay nearly 2x's what she made annually. This is a sorry statement for the future of US Women's Soccer & it needs to change.

  3. don Lamb replied, August 16, 2017 at 10:31 a.m.

    Do you go to NWSL games or watch them on tv? That's what will change it. Not saying that it needs to on a blog post.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, August 17, 2017 at 5:59 a.m.

    Savage, was that a serious question? MLS minimum salaries did not rise above that until just a couple years ago.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 17, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    The answer to your question is no.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, August 17, 2017 at 11:36 a.m.

    Currently I think a question using "profit" and "NWSL" is doomed to a negative response. The league is not making any profit at all. It is heavily subsidized by the national federations. The golden goose of professional sports is TV broadcast rights. Don Lamb mentioned this earlier.

  7. Nick Daverese, August 16, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    It was the way sports was in the 1950s. For kids they all don't dream of making millions. Even the idea of making a lot of money is their father's dream for them now. Unless you were born really poor. Then all you think about is making money any way you can make it.

  8. uffe gustafsson, August 16, 2017 at 6:22 p.m.

    The only way for women's soccer to survive as a professional sport is for MLS teams to invest in women's teams. The stand alone league teams can't do it. Seriously $16 K for a college educated soccer player is not going to do it.
    Love for the sport don't pay the bills.
    That's why the women's league continues to go bankrupt.

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 17, 2017 at 11:06 a.m.

    You're impressed by 2,000 a game? NWSL average is almost 5,000. You keep telling us the US should copy Mexico on the women's side and China and Iceland on the men's side. US Soccer must have offended you in some way to cause you to have the agenda you have.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, August 17, 2017 at 11:42 a.m.

    Uffe, the federations are already investing. Maybe 20 years from now MLS will have enough money to spend on charities. What makes you think the level of play in the women's sport is such that higher minimum salaries will attract better players to the league? Higher minimum salaries would be fairer, but I don't see any economic sense behind it.

  11. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 18, 2017 at 9:42 a.m.

    It doesn't bother me but it makes it difficult to take you seriously when you say we should be modeling ourselves on Mexico in women's development and China for men.

  12. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 18, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

    The USSF already heavily subsidizes the NWSL. As Bob says, maybe someday MLS teams will have the money to do this. A few already do. Using China as an example on the men's side makes little sense. You complain about MLS teams importing players then extol the virtues of a league that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on foreign players.

  13. don Lamb replied, August 18, 2017 at 6:38 p.m.

    H - How much NWSL soccer do you consume? This is the real world where actions have reactions, not some utopia where the NWSL gets what it "should." I wish it were not such a harsh reality -- my sister was entering the prime of her career and excelling in the WUSA when the league abruptly folded after three years. Trust me when I say abruptly -- the players found out AFTER the media did. And those games attracted a lot more fans than the NWSL is. Average attendance for the league was around 6,700 that final year. Her team averaged just under 10,000. The first year the league average was just over 8,000 while her team averaged almost 14,500.

  14. R2 Dad, August 16, 2017 at 10:28 p.m.

    Don't complain about the lack of player turnover on the USWNT when salaries for NWSL are so low and players need the USWNT bonuses to rationalize continuing to play the sport.

  15. Nick Daverese, August 18, 2017 at 11:32 p.m.

    Her team has the Brazilian player Marta on it right. How much does she make with this team I tried to find out but can't. Let's say she makes 4 or 5 hundred thousand a season. If I was her and hears her friend is leaving the team because of the chump change their paying her. I might be tempted to help her with a little money to keep her with the team. But that's just me.

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