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USWNT prospect Catarina Macario explains decision to sign with Lyon instead of entering NWSL Draft

Catarina Macario, the Brazilian-American prospect out of Stanford, recently announced her decision to forgo her senior season with Stanford to turn pro and has signed a nearly three-year contract with French giants Olympique Lyonnais that will span through June 2023. The news drops ahead of Wednesday’s 2021 NWSL Draft, and the early signing means her player rights out of college cannot be drafted by NWSL clubs.

Macario, 21, made headlines earlier in the week with with an announcement that she would be making the decision to go pro instead of returning to Stanford for her senior season.

“After much prayer and conversations with my family and loved ones, I am making the difficult decision to forego my senior season and take the next step in my soccer career by turning professional,” Macario said in a statement via her Twitter account. “It is time for me to start a new phase in life, but I will forever bleed Cardinal. Stanford will always be my home, and I will cherish the memories made here with my friends and teammates forever.”

The news also came upon the announcement of Macario’s second appearance in USWNT camps, which also welcomes the return of superstar Megan Rapinoe among the familiar faces as the team goes through preparations for two friendlies against Colombia. Macario and the team are still awaiting the FIFA petition approval, though all paperwork has been submitted and the timeline is currently ongoing. For now her presence in the camps are for trainings, familiarity, and reps. 

As Macario prepares to take the first step in her pro club career, she will be doing so with one of the most storied franchises in the world. Lyon is the winner of seven UEFA Women’s Champions League titles, and is a constant top contender in the women’s French Division 1 league. She will have access to some of the best facilities and training environments alongside some of the biggest international talents in the world. Macario said she has already connected with her future teammate Ada Hegerberg.

“I’ve hopped on a phone call with her actually. A few weeks ago, and you know just she was telling me about Lyon and we’re just talking about how we want to become a really strong duo and just take the team to a new level, Macario said. 

“You know, I think we’re both just very excited to play with each other. She said how she’s excited to be, you know, just play with a very smart player, which I was like ‘Oh, wow. Thank you!’ Just a very flattering to obviously hear from one of the best in the world. I know that in no time but she will be back out there killing it and we’re both just hoping to contribute to Lyon’s success, and hopefully win another Champions League.”

Though the former Stanford Cardinal won’t be making the jump to NWSL like so many of her former teammates, Macario believes that her time playing in the American league will eventually come.

Along with top facilities and resources, Lyon has largely invested in the women’s game, including an ownership within NWSL through OL Reign operating out of Tacoma, Washington. The extensive contract for Macario will have her tied to Lyon for some time, but the possibility of potentially playing within the league through Lyon’s partnership is something that has crossed her mind. Though keeping an eye on the future, for now, she’s focused on her new club in France.

“I’ve thought about that [playing with OL Reign] but, you know like, right now I’m just kind of taking it one step at a time,” Macario said. “I signed with Lyon, and if they think that it would be of mutual benefit to have me join OL Reign, then that would be great, of course. Like I said, I would love to play in the league. I’m not sure if it would come from necessarily that partnership, but will it happen one day? Yes.”

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