With the upcoming NWSL draft around the corner, and the league making draft adjustments in light of the on going pandemic, all eyes have been on one the biggest names to come out of collegiate soccer in decades.
Catarina Macario, the Brazilian-American prospect out of Stanford University recently announced her decision to forgo her senior season with Stanford to turn pro.
"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 social media accounts.
"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," she concluded.
Macario's decision to turn pro comes after the recent announcement of her second USWNT camp invite, first of 2021. The young prospect also recently shared the news of her U.S. citizenship, and the current process of finalizing her eligibility with FIFA is currently ongoing. For now, the forward is an active participant in the senior camps, but has yet to make her first appearance for the United States.
The former Cardinal bids farewell to an iconic collegiate career. In her freshman year she finished with 17 goals, and 16 assists in 25 matches. earning her many accolades including two Pac-12 of the Year awards (freshman and forward) and espnW player of the year.
She is now stepping away after earning two consecutive MAC Hermann trophies, and a Honda Sports Award, issued to the national top collegiate soccer players.
Macario's offensive abilities both on and off the ball have impressed over the years, and there had been speculation that she'd go pro earlier. Her capability to create both her own shot and set up teammates is just part of her soccer arsenal, and she's a free kick specialist as well.
With her announcement, the race is considered full speed to land the young star. However, NWSL draft rules have made things complex. With Racing Louisville FC currently holding the number one pick, and the inclusion of an NCAA waiver for players that has now extended to all college seniors who will be considered eligible for draft selection.
Since a larger number players are available for selection in the draft this year whether or not they officially declare, the rules have been changed to allow teams to retain those player rights as an asset for the following 2022 season.
While players are not obligated to report to a team that drafts them, as has typically been the case in prior drafts, the option to declare at all has now been removed. While players will have the opportunity to seek out other playing avenues outside of NWSL even if selected, the respective NWSL club will be able to retain those player rights as an asset for the following 2022 season, through preseason, meaning a player could have to wait an extended period of time for those rights to expire if they wish to sign with an NWSL team outside of a negotiated trade.
The current complex rules brought on as a reaction to the pandemic, could mean the league will miss out on the promising Macario if she decides to play elsewhere rather than report to the team that drafts her. The potential loss of a player of Macario's caliber within NWSL will be significant, especially after her journey to citizenship and current involvement with USWNT camps. The window for luring the star to stay, rather than respond to being drafted by a team she does not want to play for by going overseas, is closing. The NWSL draft is on January 13th.