NWSL or Europe? Catarina Macario's future home unclear

Catarina Macario, considered a once-in-a-generation prospect, is turning pro, foregoing her senior season at Stanford.

The announcement comes five days before the 2021 NWSL College Draft, though it is unclear if she will join NWSL or sign with a European team.

Expansion club Racing Louisville holds the first pick in the College Draft, but Macario signed with A&V Sports, an agency that specializes in the European player market and represents 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg and Sam Kerr, the NWSL's all-time leading scorer who joined Chelsea in 2020.

A&V Sports released a welcoming tweet and posted a video of Macario highlights:

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cardinal will defend its national title in the spring. (Special NCAA rules introduced for athletes in fall 2020 sports would have allowed Macario to return for the fall 2021 season.)

In three seasons, Macario:

-- Led Stanford to two national championships (2017 and 2019);
-- Won back-to-back Hermann Trophies (2018 and 2019);
-- Tallied 63 goals and 47 assists in 68 games.

"This was not an easy decision by any means," wrote Macario in a statement, "because, even after having fulfilled my graduation requirements, I wanted to compete for another championship with my teammates and represent Stanford as a senior. This program means the world to me; I would not be the person nor player I am today without it and I will be forever grateful for the coaches, teammates, fans, medical, equipment and media staff for making my time on The Farm so unforgettable."

Macario was born in Brazil and moved to the United States when she was 12 along with her father and brother to pursue her soccer dreams. (Her mother remained in Brazil to continue her medical practice.) Macario played for the San Diego Surf and attended Torrey Pines High School.

Macario, 21, recently gained her U.S. citizenship, allowing her to join the U.S. women's national team as soon as she is cleared by FIFA under its new rules relaxing the criteria for naturalized players to play for their adopted country. Without them, she would have had to wait until her 23rd birthday -- in October 2022 -- to play for the USA.

The new criteria no longer tie Macario down to residing in the United States until her 23rd birthday.

The NWSL's new compensation rules have been relaxed, so a team could pay a player like Macario more. Whether that's enough to match an offer from a European team like French club Lyon or one of the elite clubs in England's WSL remains to be seen.

What is clear is that Macario is a special player, the best American who has turned pro since the NWSL launched in 2013.

In an interview with Soccer America's Mike Woitalla three weeks ago: Stanford's Paul Ratcliffe was asked what makes Macario special. Here's what he said:

"Technically and tactically, she's is an incredible player. She has the highest level of skills and also the brain for game. From that standpoint, she could fit in anywhere in the world and play at the highest level. Then there's her finishing ability and her passing ability. Creating goals and scoring goals -- she can do both. She's really balanced in that. That's what really separates her. Usually you could be the best No. 10, where you create goals for others, but to be able to do both at the highest level is remarkable."<

16 comments about "NWSL or Europe? Catarina Macario's future home unclear".
  1. frank schoon, January 9, 2021 at 10:12 a.m.

    I watched the tape several times and enjoyed it. This is how I foresaw women play soccer years ago. She represents how women  SHOULD play and the reason was that women are given more time with the ball, are less foam on the mouth types ,less fire breathing types, than the men and therefore can display more technical facets, more beauty to the game thus making it more enjoyable to watch as you watch Macario here do. But the problem is that Macario is the exception for women soccer is basicly Turbo soccer where athleticism and power rules. To me, women soccer didn't turn out that way as I wished it to be.

    I think those who set up women soccer in the beginning if they envisioned  what I think how women should be capable of playing, they would have immediately hired strictly brought in BRAZILIAN coaches ,or coaches from South America who enjoy ,most of all, the TECHNICAL FLAIR aspects of  the game. So that if I watched an MLS game for 90min. ,which is tough to do,plus having to get up every so often to wipe  the saliva off my tv screen as one of these Turbos runs downfield coming across my screen, I would be so looking forward to turning on a women's game ,after seeing the men, where one could enjoy, the nicer ,the lesser frantic, the more esthetic type of game one could watch like when watching  a bunch of brazilians on the beach play with enjoyment and flair.

    But women soccer didn't turn out that way for they followed the same pattern and style of soccer the men play but WORSE for it is basicly Athleticism and Turbo as the main meal that sets the tone. There are/were two women, so far who gave women soccer a boost as far as skills and esthetics and both are BRAZILIAN, Sissy and Macario..Both as you can see played with men or boys in their development...
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  2. frank schoon, January 9, 2021 at 11:08 a.m.

    This video, really proves how bad women college soccer really is. Lets take a look at the goalies who ,I think, are living in a parallel universe that has a 2 second delay right behind ours. Some of their reactions are so late, or their diving capabilities, especially getting any height off the ground are not good. Likewise the defense is deplorable. Notice how they all run backwards when Macario has the ball thus giving her more space and allowing to come closer to the goal to shoot. In one case , she's in the penalty area dribbling 5 defenders who either watch or attempt to stick their leg out. You have to ask yourself, WHO have these girls been coached and trained by ALL THIS YEARS, 'till their eighteenth, to play so badly, tacticly or otherwise and realize these were LICENSED coaches... 

    Macario ,technically, does some things consistently that I don't see the women do as part of their overal movement with the ball. I don't know how to explain it but it comes close watching a bunch of guys from a distance playing basketball, soccer, or throwing a baseball around, and if you're very familiar with that particular sport than you can tell right away who is sort of a novice or good player.  Macario exhibits certain technical facets that I see our women don't display. For example, when she receives the ball on the run and produces a little hop or skip which has the intend of absorbing or 'deadening' the ball with the other foot that is not in motion for a split second. The one at 42sec. into the video is probably easiest to see and it is also the easiest to execute being so far away from the goal, but try that near the penalty at a good pace which is much ,much more difficult to execute in small space at a fast pace. Platini did this in the penalty box WC'82 against Germany.

    I teach this hop as a way of accelerating and or changing directions in a 90 degree format. As you receive the ball,  'deadening it' , right after you land from your hop, you immediate push the ball forward or sideways, 90degrees, with the same foot. In other words the receiving foot touches the ball twice, deadening and pushing, which throws the defender off his timing. Remember ,a defender times you when you dribble and that is every time you touch the ball with one foot a step is followed with the other foot, but not in this case.  This is why Cruyff says ' "if you try timing me, I've beaten you". 

    I hope Macario will be succesfull in her pro career and I loved how she scored on the volley employing the outside of her instep. You don't see volley shot off the juggle in women soccer....

  3. Wooden Ships replied, January 9, 2021 at 1:49 p.m.

    Lavelle is technical, creative player like Macario. It will be interesting to see how they include both on the field, with the National team. She may become the player, where the USWNT begins to alter their style. More than just turbo. 

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, January 9, 2021 at 4:03 p.m.

    Gruel with diamond in it is still gruel.

    Frank dreams higher than I do. I still insist that the women had the talent to play better soccer than they did (consider the competition). I thought that Ellis was a genius at exploiting athleticism and the talent we had. Unfortuneately, 2019's success has probably ensured that like England in 1950, our game will not improve. Especially since the USSF put the manager of the men's program in charge of the WNT too to stop any deviation.

  5. Bob Ashpole, January 9, 2021 at 6:09 p.m.

    Frank, in response to your comment about the 2 female Brazilians, I was looking for clips of Mia Hamm, but there just wasn't much film of her. So I will have to simply suggest that Mia's play thrilled the whole world. At one time she was the only woman in soccer's World Hall of Fame. Also Pele included her in his list of all time best players. She still holds the record for international assists. She was smart and great with the ball. She reminds me of Messi.

  6. frank schoon replied, January 10, 2021 at 9:50 a.m.

    Bob, I think I've have some videos of Mia Hamm of her playing in the 90's. To me she was the best at that time and still would be the best player if she played today. But reaiize  she played at a time when women soccer was in the baby stages for most of the competitors were not good. Lets face the US had the top players and the best team,hands down. We had no competition out there.

    Mia was a Turbo player, all of her actions came with turbo and she was good, especially when she had a lot of space. She would have been an excellent on the left wing with Heath on the right which makes for a great BALANCE of attack. One side requires more combinational play and the other side (Hamm)a speedy penetrating side. Besides ,Hamm is much versatile than 'Rappi'. 

    Here is the interesting thing, we have all the horses all the turbo, and all of sudden this little girl from Brazil, Sissy, comes and shows the American a whole other facet of soccer, a good ballhandler, for women standards. She was unique, in the 'land of the Turbos'. No she didn't outrun or out muscle or out Turbo anyone, she survived on SKILLS and smarts. Macario ,likewise has those qualities, somewhat in a way I would call 'unamerican' for she doesn't fit the style of play we are used to watching from our 'Turbo bunnies'.

    As Ships states ,if we can gather a few more of these types of players that would effect the women's style of soccer. But at the same time, I am for bringing in SOUTH AMERICAN coaches ,former greats ,perhaps, who prefer the game with TECHNICAL flair.


  7. Bob Ashpole replied, January 10, 2021 at 11:44 a.m.

    Frank, I think where we differ is whether the chicken or the egg comes first. I think it is the coaching that limits our style of play. Not the players. The talent of the players is important to winning, but a team may still play a better style with less talented players. The problem is that every coach and team owner wants immediate success, not future success. Even at the development level.

    If we don't first have the ownership and coaching committed to play better soccer, the players will never get there. 

    As for Mia Hamm, yes she played on a "turbo" team, but when Mia was triple marked she was playing in tight spaces because of the defensive pressure. She wasn't only dribbling through them, but has the assist record too. Since she played for Dorrance during college, she never had a chance to play any other style. If she had I think she would have done well. Especially considering the low quality of the opposition, as you mentioned.

  8. frank schoon replied, January 10, 2021 at 12:09 p.m.

    Bob, our coaching does limit our style of play, sure, but also take into account the level of technical expertise can limit the style of what the coaches want to play. In other words, Rinus Michels could not have played 'total soccer' employing English players who are not as good technically as the players he had. In other words when you grow up playing in a Turbo environment as Hamm did,she obviously developed all her senses, techniques and her flow into that environment. Like Cruyff states , you are either good in small spaces or in large space but you can't be in both. So to say Hamm only played one style but could play the other as well ,that is not as simple  as you think it is...
     Imagine, if Macario gets a coach that wants to play Turbo, a la Liverpool, or someone like Jesse Marsch, I would tell her to get off that team for her capabilities of what she's good at will not be as functional and wouldn't fit in her 'flow' of things so to speak...

  9. R2 Dad, January 9, 2021 at 10:04 p.m.

    Glad to see comments here about the USWNT--more eyeballs and fan criticism can only help the program evolve. This player has all the tools to become not just good but a great player. I think she plays the game as men do, with the skill and intellect to do great things. Whether she slots in as a 10 (or maybe the 2nd 10 like Dorance plays, maybe a 4-1-2-3) or as a 9 (the nuevo-Abby position) will speak volumes about how Vlatko operates this team going forward and how seriously he takes France and Spain. Sure, the "New Abby" would be easiest, with Rapinoe crosses into the box. But Macario at the 10 is the most promising and will tell us how the team plans to play at the next world cup. If we are pressing, and plan to hold possession in the attacking 3rd, the Macario 10 makes the most sense. If we are counterattacking, Vlatko will think we can just outscore everyone else and can take a chance with France/Spain/NL/England. That's how I see it, anyway.

  10. Ben Myers, January 10, 2021 at 1:29 a.m.

    Best finish: Trap and turn with back to the goal, finish with outside of left foot.  Two-footed finisher, superb confidence on the ball.  She'll be OK anywhere as a pro, even with stronger challenges than college soccer provides.

  11. frank schoon, January 10, 2021 at 10:43 a.m.

    As far as what system to play with Macario, we have to keep it simple. Macario can score, she has more skills, than Rappi, LLoyd, Morgan put together when it comes to playing in small spaces. She has a toolbox of skills that she can employ as you see in the video, for example, her shot with the outside of the foot off the juggle, as well as her ballhandling skill in tight spaces.  She is very unique as compared to the aforementioned who are actually very similar coming from Turbo land.

    I would suggest she play #9 ,centerforward, but dropping back enough between 5-10meters , sort of between the lines, which will have the effect of forcing one of the centerbacks to come out of her position and move up for you don't want Macario to have all the space and time. 

    The good thing about Macario is that she has the option when dropping back far enough to force the opponent's #6 to think should I pick up Macario or is it the centerback's job. For example, if the opponent's #6 is very good and dominant at midfield,  I would tell Macario to drop back closer to #6, forcing #6 to have to guard Macario and thus taking #6 away from using her stronger abilies at midfield.  Macario has to feel or rather the coach in the beginning has get a feel for what is best and how Macario can exploit this situation.

    To fully employ Macario's strength, is to position the wings wide thus stetching out the opponent's defensive line as wide as possible. That means in effect our front line all of which are good at 1v1 are given the situation to employ their strength of one on one play. In this manner, you open up the spaces between the centerback and the backs for runs by our outside midfielders, preferable the 'weakside' to come through the backdoor. 

    By creating this possible 1v1 effect in the opponent's backline forces the opponents outside midfielders to drop back to help out more leaving their midfield weaker and that is what we want. I personally prefer for Macario to drop a little for I think she is much stronger and more effective coming up with the ball with full field view than playing point man with her back facing the goal and with two centerbacks behind her. 


  12. frank schoon replied, January 10, 2021 at 12:49 p.m.

    Realize how we can employ our outside midfielders making weakside runs. When you have good 1v1 players up front, you create space and numerical superiority.  For example, if one of the centerbacks moves up to cover Macario that leaves one centerback free to support the backs or the centerback.. Suppose, our left wing 'Rappi' takes on the right back and beats her that means a shift by the centerback towards the her right to stop 'Rappi' thus leaving a space open for our right midfielder on the weakside to make a run into that space 

  13. R2 Dad, January 10, 2021 at 1:42 p.m.

    Where should she play for club? Looks like her agent is primed for a European side. Spain? Germany? France? How important is team strength vs league strength?

  14. frank schoon replied, January 10, 2021 at 1:53 p.m.

    R2, good question. But we do know she can score ,is very flexible, allow her to roam favoring more her center  to left back to center.  She has too much ability to put her on the flanks. She's able to use her skills given any situation better than most players..

  15. R2 Dad, January 11, 2021 at 5:14 p.m.

    Apparently she is most likely to land at Lyon, says ESPN. 
    I'm curious what this does to the Nats pool of players, who are tied to NWSL. Macario was never in the USSF system, but now she is invited to camp but doesn't have to be tied to NWSL in order to do so? What is this going to do for those told to wait their turn while the older ladies try to make one more tournament? Since USSF/NWSL doesn't have claim to her via the standard college/draft path, is this going to upset the carefully-managed apple cart?

  16. frank schoon replied, January 11, 2021 at 5:17 p.m.

    You pick who is best and whom you can with....The rest is BS

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