The U.S. women's national team has a tradition for new players.
It awards a game ball to each player after she earns her first cap and scores her first goal. Catarina Macario
earned two game balls this week, one each she'll give to her mother and father.
The Brazilian-born forward made her long-awaited debut for the USA in its 4-0 win over Colombia on Monday, and she scored her first goal less than three minutes into her first start in the USA's 6-0 win over the Cafeteras in Friday's rematch in Orlando.
"I came here because the U.S. is the land of opportunity," said Macario, who moved to San Diego from Brasilia with her father, Jose
, and brother Estevao
when she was 12 to take advantage of the area's strong girls soccer culture and then attended Stanford. "It was just a dream that a little girl had when I was 10 or so, and the fact that it actually happened today -- I have a lot of aspirations but I will definitely say that two of them were realized today."
Macario's mother, Ana Maria
, remained in Brazil to concentrate on her medical practice and support the family.
"This would not have been possible without them, from the start," said Macario of her parents after Friday's game.
She was born in Sao Luis, a city in Brazil’s northeastern state of Maranhao, and wanted to start playing soccer when she was 4, like Estevao, who was two years older. She needed permission from her father, however.
"Even when I was 4 years old," she said, "my dad actually letting me play soccer was a big decision."
Soccer was dominated by males, and young females simply weren't encouraged to play, but Macario's father made an exception. (Jose told
Stanford's David Kiefer that he made a deal with his daughter -- he agreed to enroll Catarina in soccer school if she would eat beans, which she hated.)
As Macario grew up, moving to Brasilia and then San Diego and starring at Stanford, she looked up the stars of the U.S. women's national team whom she had to speak in front of this week.
"Essentially, I just told them how surreal it was," she said of the speech she gave after earning her first game ball, "how just unbelievable it was I was actually playing with people I grew up watching. This week, I had a lot of dreams come true and I’m so grateful."