The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, January 25, 2021

She Shoots, She Scores! Catarina Macario may be the future, but let's just enjoy the ride and avoid the hyperbolic expectations — Woso links — Macario speaks to the media after her first goal

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Welcome to the Catarina Macario appreciation edition of The IX. All Macario, all the time.

It was clear Macario was a talent from the moment she stepped on the field for Stanford, when most of us became acquainted with her. She was already drawing comparisons to fellow Brazilian Marta as a freshman, when she had 17 goals and led the nation with 13 assists.

Her legend grew with back-to-back MAC Hermann trophies, and then again when she was called into USWNT camp last year and became a citizen. But it has really reached a fever pitch this year with her shiny new contract with Lyon and the FIFA approval allowing her to play for the United States.

It’s clear she’s a talent. I mean, just ask Megan Rapinoe:

I just think that physically she’s kind of already ready to be at this level, that’s a huge jump for a lot of people to go from college to this level to be able to compete physically. You saw, she can hold it up, she’s quick, she thinks fast. And I think she’s just going to be one of those sort of fun players that you love to see. Someone that’s going to excite the fans, someone that’s gonna come out with something creative, a nutmeg or she’s gonna do a little chip. I think we’re already kind of seeing that in practice.

A word of caution about expectations. Mallory Pugh was also hyped as a future star of the national team but seemed to struggle when it came to living up to the expectations.

Now, clearly, Macario is a different player. Indeed, she’s been called a “generational talent.” And I’m really not trying to be a buzzkill here. I just have seen the hype machine work in overdrive before, and only in very rare circumstances does it pan out. For every LeBron James, there’s a 100 Sebastian Telfairs (OK, obscure reference, I know). (Editor’s note: I’m still holding out hope for Telfair.)

In the moment, I think we should all just enjoy Catarina Macario for her unmistakable talent, but not place the future of the team on her shoulders.

Rapinoe talked about passing the torch after Macario’s goal.

We give game balls out for everyone’s first cap your first goal, and we always kind of like tease them `Speech, speech speech!’ And she actually gave a little speech. Her talking about how she’s looked up to this team for so long and dreamt of being on this team, and now her being in this position. It’s just like this full circle moment for all of us. I think the older players take pride in knowing that we’re continuing to grow the game and leave it in a better place and inspire the next generation, just as the older ones did for us . So it’s really just kind of a cool moment, obviously her whole story, but then on the field, she just she’s still getting comfortable but she’s going to be fire and I think we can see that.

Today Macario is in France joining her new team. It appears that her first pro game will be on Feb. 6. I’m assuming she’ll be back stateside for the SheBelieves Cup.

On to the links!

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Meg Linehan of the Athletic took a look at the biggest takeaways from the USWNT’s first two matches.

MUST READ OF THE WEEK: Andre Carlisle wrote an excellent piece on standing for the national anthem for All for XI. I was going to write about this today, but this story essentially sums it up — especially this line: “It is an almost unexplainably dumbfounding experience to have these conversations with white colleagues, in which you peel away the layers of frustration, anger and hurt that are wrapped up within and simply by existing as a Black person in this United States, only to be met with the sort of indifference that still prioritizes the traditions of whiteness — ‘Ok, I hear you and that all sounds really bad but I still have to stand for this song.’”

John Halloran for ASN looked at the 6-0 rout of Colombia.

Kevin Baxter says the biggest opponent for the USWNT is the players themselves.

The IX Advisory Board member Julie Foudy writes for ESPN that the USWNT needs to find the right mix between vets and newcomers.

Nancy Armour from USAToday writes about Carli Lloyd’s return to the team.

Michael Lewis from Front Row Soccer writes about Crystal Dunn’s chance on the attack.

Kathleen McNamee for ESPN wrote a nice profile of Trinity Rodman.

Hege Riise is temporarily taking over England’s national team.

Short feature on Racing Louisville draft pick Kirsten Davis.

Cute Kansas City Star story on trying out for the new NWSL team.

Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports took a look at all of the NWSL’s teams heading into camp next month.

Annie Costabile writes about Louisville’s tournament for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Kinda bummed about Britt’s retirement.

Ali Krieger and the fight for racial justice, from Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel.

Alex Azzi also explored the kneeling issue for NBC Sports.

Forbes on Macario’s signing with Lyon.

Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer writing about the growing excitement for the US team and the uncertainty about the Olympics.

The Guardian did a nice profile of Macario.

Tweet of the Week

Since I’ve got a theme going here:

Five at The IX: Catarina Macario Meets The Press!—%20Meredith%20Cash%20(@mercash22)%20a%20href=

Question: You made it look easy although I’m sure it wasnt. Your first start, you score your first national team goal in four minutes in a different position. Can you take us through it.

Macario: Yeah, I mean, it was something new but I had just prepped with my teammates leading up to the week. I had prepped with Vlatko, and he would just give me as much feedback as possible as how he wanted me to play and so it definitely wasn’t that easy but just thankfully my teammates are so great they make me look good and so I think that’s how we made it look so easy. Ali played a wonderful ball and I was able to just finish it off like we had been training in practice.

Question: What is it like being in there with all these great players. And now getting to play with them?

Macario: Yeah, I had actually talked to them a little bit about that, because in my last game when I got my debut they made me do a little speech in the locker room.

Essentially I just told them how surreal it was, how just unbelievable it was the fact that I was actually playing with the people that I grew up watching. And so I feel like this week I’ve had a lot of dreams come true just in a very short amount and I’m so grateful for it. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from all of them and I am just so happy that I actually get to play with them now and just take my game to the new level, because they’re so intense and so good.

Question: I know that it’s been a long journey for you from Brazil with your family, you guys sacrificed a lot to get here. How does it feel, I mean does it feel worth it now, and what are you going to do with the balls?

Macario: I would definitely say that the balls go to my parents. This would not have been possible without them from the start. Even when I was four years old, and my dad actually letting me play soccer, because it was definitely a big decision when you’re, letting your daughter play soccer in a male dominant world. They’ll definitely get the two balls, each of them will get one. It feels amazing, the fact that I got my first start, first goal. It was definitely something that I wanted to accomplish eventually, I didn’t know it was it would happen so soon. I am just so grateful that Vlatko had that confidence in me and that trust, and I just hope that I can show him that it will pay off.

Question: How much are you working on the interplay between you and Rose and how much of it is the coaches letting you be creative in playing off each other.

Macario: Actually Rose and I were talking about this yesterday, how we really like playing with each other. But I think the coaches know our characteristics and so they didn’t necessarily have to say anything out of the norm, like, `Oh, you guys play with each other.’ It was more just a natural thing to happen. I know that she played me a few good balls, great balls, but my finishing wasn’t that well today. And so, I hope that I can repay her the next time. I mean I’m just so excited, Rose is a fantastic player and I know she’ll be here with this team for a while and so I hope that I will have more opportunities to play with her and just keep having fun with everything.

Question: Question: Did you feel like you were living the American dream tonight.

Macario: Yeah, definitely. Like I said in my video, I came here because the US is the land of opportunity. 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 mean I have a lot of aspirations, but I’d definitely say that two of them are realized today. I don’t have the words to describe how wonderful this moment was, but yeah, I’m definitely living the American dream.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Sarah Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson