In pondering the future of the USWNT, I’m looking at Catarina Macario — Woso links — What Cat had to say about it all

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, February 21, 2022

We’re two games into to the SheBelieves Cup, and while the opening result against the Czech Republic was disappointing, we got to see something interesting and, in my opinion, overdue: Catarina Macario at center forward. We also got to see the chemistry she’s starting to develop with Rose Lavelle.

Although the goals weren’t there, it was a positive development. Stating the obvious: We should all be looking at these exhibition games as “working things out” ahead of qualifying and the World Cup — rather than looking only at the score lines — or lack of them, in this case (it was a 0-0 draw).

Remember the collective freakout over the loss to France in January ahead of the 2019 World Cup? So many questions about whether the USWNT’s world domination was over. But really, it was just working things out.

That’s similar to what’s happening here. The only difference is that it’s a bunch of new faces. Back in 2019 we still had many of the players from 2015.

Not to take away from the veterans left off this roster, but The Future is Now. And Catarina Macario is definitely the future.

She’s shown her quality with Lyon in her sophomore season, with 13 appearances, including 11 starts, and nine goals. Keep in mind, Lyon is star-studded, and she leads the team in goals. Ada Hegerberg is second with eight, but has played in just nine games.

With the USWNT, she’s made 14 appearances with seven starts and three goals.

So now it’s just a matter of developing cohesion between the players. Coach Vlatko Andonovski said as much.

“Every time we go into a game, we have objectives and for this camp, one of the things that we wanted to do is work on strengthening some of the relationships, certain players will play together I mean, you’re gonna see Tiana and Alana play a little bit together, you’re going to see Cat playing together with with Rose on the field or we’re gonna see Soph and Mal on n the field together with Cat. So there’ll be certain players that will go on the field together, or at times, leave the field in same time. And part of the reason why is because these are players that we believe that need to spend time together so they can strengthen the relationship.”

I know that all the hype right now is around Trinity Rodman, and it’s deserved, but I’m really looking at Macario as the player most likely to challenge the vets right now.

As for the aformentioned world domination, it’s clear that the USWNT has work to do. The game is changing. Teams rise and fall. The Olympics certainly proved that. But really, isn’t it more fun and interesting when all boats rise with the tide?

I’m excited to see how the next-gen USWNT forges its own path.

Oh, and hey, I completely missed the New Zealand match because I was covering No. 2 Stanford at Oregon women’s basketball. Was stoked to be able to see the Cardinal. Such a talented, steady and balanced team. (Editor’s note: can confirm.)


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LINKS!

Julie Foudy with an excellent must-read column here for ESPN.

Jenna Tonelli with a piece on Yael Averbuch for The Equalizer.

Seth Vertelney for goal.com with a story on Mia Fischel’s decision to go to Tigres.

ESPN’s Caitlin Murray on Chicago’s new coach after the abuse scandal.

Also for goal.com, Amee Ruszkai on Rashida Beal’s journey.

Jessa Braun on Macario for Just Women’s Sports.

The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta says the future is here, but it has not yet arrived.

Laken Litman is working for FOX Sports! So happy to see her writing about soccer. Here’s her story on the USWNT’s fresh faces.

The Ferns show love to Meikayla Moore.

Andonovski made 28 percent less than Berhalter, from my AP colleague Ron Blum.

Blum also wrote about Carlos Cordeiro’s effort to return as president of US Soccer. BTW, the election is on March 5.

The Athletic’s Steph Yang spoke to Parlow Cone.

Recapping England’s draw with Canada, and what it shows about the Lionesses, from The Athletic.

Katie Whatt for The Athletic wrote a really nice profile of Canada coach Bev Priestman.

Bloomberg Law’s story on the $9.2 million US Soccer has paid to fight the Equal Pay suit. Holy cow.

Looks like we’re going to Monterrey in July. Average temp for that month? 96 degrees. And 50 percent humidity. Fun!


Five at The IX: Catarina Macario

Question: As you’re now a globe trotting citizen of the world playing for Lyon, and and so what does it feel like being home?

Macario: Yeah it does, it’s something that’s very special and even though it’s not quite San Diego, I feel like LA because it’s only two hours away it does feel like it’s home and almost like a little home advantage. I have a lot of friends and family coming to see this game. So yeah, it’s gonna be something special and very close to my heart. I’m looking forward to it.

Question: Vlatko said that he wants to play you with Rose out there on the field together at some point along the way here. What do you think that’s gonna be like for the two of you since you’re both such you know, players, like spend a lot of time on the ball?

Macario: I mean, Rose is just, she’s amazing. I mean, she’s just a big magician, I feel like, with the ball. She’s incredibly creative, and you never know what she’s going to do. So it’s just super fun to be out there with her, and evertime of course, wearing the crest and to play with her, it’s just such an honor and a privilege. She’s a distinguished player, so it’s gonna be really fun. At least the times that we have played together it’s worked out really well. I do hope that we’ll get some time together. Definitely this camp.

Question: How much of an advantage do you think you have coming in season to camp over the others?

Macario: I don’t know if I would call it necessarily an advantage. I mean, it does help that I have been playing some games just in terms of confidence, fitness and things like that. But at the end of the day, we’re all here. I feel like it’s still like an equal playing field no matter what. After all, these are my teammates, so I’m not competing against them by any means. The other ones, the opposition, may have also been playing games. So those are the people that I would want to have an advantage over, but definitely not against my teammates. I feel like, regardless, we’ve all been putting in the work and they’re into their preseason and whatnot. So we’ll definitely try to ramp it up right now to win these matches.

Question: The SheBelieves cup is known for inspiring the next generation, what does that mean for you as you take the field and get the opportunity to inspire some young fans here in SoCal?

Macario: SoCal a place that’s so special to me. The weather’s absolutely magnificient. It just feels like the vibes are good, we’re all super excited to get started. I mean, I think my first national team game that I ever watched was actually here in SoCal. I believe the US was playing in Australia in 2013, Alex Morgan scored a really cool goal. That was like my first memory really, so I hope that I can definitely inspire the little girls or little boys out there or just whichever generation, to be excited about this new group coming in, and get people excited for CONCACAF, the World Cup and just American soccer in general. Just how we’re trying to make a change, we’re trying to light up the world, by the way that we play, but also with things that we do off the field. That’s what the this team has been about for a lot of years.

Question: Now that you’ve been on the team for a little while now, and we’re in a new cycle, do you sense a greater expectation or a greater responsibility in yourself to perform and take a greater leadership role now?

Macario: I do feel like I’ve been around for about a year now, so I don’t feel like I’m a rookie anymore. And I do think it’s time — I’ve had my rookie year essentially, I’ve had my time for mistakes, and by no means is it over but I do feel like it’s been a great year of just learning new things, having more experience. So I just hope that I can, come and implement that into my game now with the national team. I just hope that I can show that to you guys. And for our team too, just coming in, in the next few games. But I do feel like there’s also a lot of younger players here with this team, so I’m not necessarily feeling like Everything is on Cat. We’re all in this together. We’ll just lean on each other. Vlatko and his staff, everyone is just super great over here. And they makes it a really comfortable environment. So we’re just looking to have fun and also get the job done.

Question (from Foudy): What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from playing in Lyon. And then whether you play in the 9, or you play in the 10 or you play in the 7 or the 11, you have so much versatility. What are you preferring right now? And it don’t say I will play anywhere because that is the standard answer.

Macario: Biggest thing I have learned from Lyon has been I think just the speed of play, the intelligence of having more awareness of the opponent, my teammates, whether it’s one, two touches. And also I have really enjoyed just like coming back to the fundamentals — which are This is is just how your first touch is supposed to be an different textures and things like that. It has helped me just falling back in love with the game and it’s been really fun. Just training with all these world class players has just helped me so much in this first year as a pro and I’m just super grateful that I made the decision to go across the pond. It definitely is tough sometimes, especially with travel and whatnot, but I wouldn’t have any other way. And I guess in terms of my preferred position, it really is wherever I can play, but I feel like what I’m good at is finishing and scoring goals. So wherever that puts me closest to goal. So I feel like playing as a forward, specifically specifically the nine, is my preferred position.

Question: When you talk about falling back in love with the game, what specifically made you fall back in love with the game?

Macario: Like for example, when I was in college, of course we had to study so much and like things like that. But now I now that I have more time I’m just like, OK, I can’t believe that this is like my job. I get to do the thing that I love the most as my job and this is what gives me a living. I love the fact that I can do my recovery while watching football, tt’s just the most amazing thing, and just talk football. Now that Lindsey’s there we’re always just like trying to figure out new things or talking about our favorite teams and whatnot, and just really trying to get better every single day and refine things that you think that you may be good. You go to an environment like Lyon or the national team, it’s like like everyone else is just as good, so it’s like, let’s just like keep rising to a new level.

Question: As you said, you’re no longer a rookie with this team. But you are not yet a a storied veteran with his team. I’m wondering when you look at the next year or so what are the things that you believe you need to do, the things that you need to show, in order to be where you want to be with this team?

Macario: I think it definitely just comes like one day at a time, we can’t skip any pages by any means. But I think I just need to start making things happen. I think for a lot of my first year, I would be like so nervous, just because of the so-called high intensity environment. There are definitely a lot of expectations, but I think I’ve gotten more comfortable, at least throughout the year, I’ve gotten more comfortable in just having that pressure and being able to trust myself and put in the work, After all, things aren’t going to happen unless you put in the work, unless you have confidence in yourself. And that’s what I’m really just looking forward to, like 2022 I’m ready to go after it, I’m ready to attack. Just every single day, make it count. And I hope that can start definitely with the SheBelieves especially because it’s at home. I feel like it’s not necessarily like back to my club days, with having my friends and family coming to watch, but it just feels special, so I’m just excited for it.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
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By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
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Written by Annie Peterson