Catarina Macario turns professional, will forgo senior season

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On Friday, Jan. 8, star senior midfielder Catarina Macario announced she would forgo her senior season and turn professional. 

“This was not an easy decision by any means,” Macario explained in her announcement on Twitter. The senior, who has completed all of her graduation requirements, will also attend the U.S. Women’s National Team January training camp and vie for a spot on the 2021 Tokyo Olympic roster.

As Macario moves on to bigger stages, she faces an important decision. Playing for a team in the National Women’s Soccer League, she would be the 43rd Stanford women’s soccer player to continue onto the domestic league. 

However, she has another option: move to Europe. Recently, more female professional soccer players have been moving to Europe due to the higher wages. Among these athletes are forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Tobin Heath, forward Christen Press, midfielder Rose Lavelle and midfielder Sam Mewis — all huge losses for the American league. 

If Macario stays in the U.S., she will most likely be the first draft pick, which would have her play for Racing Louisville FC. This would make her the fourth-straight first overall pick from the Farm. However, according Jeff Kassouf, founder of Equalizer Soccer, the young player “has offers from some top European clubs.” In Europe, Macario would be able to choose the club for which she plays along with the likely higher salary. The senior’s decision will presumably be released soon, as players must declare for the draft by Monday.

If Macario moves overseas, it would mark yet another monumental loss for the NWSL and indicate a need for change as players continue to look elsewhere.

Macario’s departure for professional soccer is also noteworthy with regard to the immediate future success of the Cardinal. Without the senior star this season, Stanford may face more difficulties in securing consecutive NCAA titles. The Cardinal is also missing forward Sophia Smith, who is now playing for the Portland Timbers and the USWNT. Smith and Macario’s energy and skill were key in allowing the Cardinal to clutch the 2019 NCAA championship.

This spring, Stanford must rely more heavily on other crucial players such as senior forward Madison Haley and junior defender Naomi Girma — both of whom were invited to the USWNT training camp alongside Macario in November 2020. 

Although Macario will not be there competing alongside her former teammates, she credits much of her success to the support of the incredible players and coaches at Stanford.

“This program means the world to me; I would not be the person nor player I am today without it […] It is time for me to start a new phase in life, but I will forever bleed Cardinal,” Macario wrote.

Contact Samantha Leventis at samantha040602 ‘at’ gmail.com.

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