USWNT Prospect Catarina Macario Signs With Lyon After Leaving Stanford Early

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Catarina Macario's legendary collegiate career is over, and she's beginning the professional chapter of her career abroad at the world's preeminent club.

The U.S. women's national team prospect and Stanford standout announced Friday she is forgoing her senior year with the Cardinal to turn pro, and on Tuesday it was confirmed that she'll be joining elite French club Lyon on a deal through June 2023. Lyon has won the last five UEFA Women's Champions League titles and the last 14 top-flight French titles and is home to a number of the world's top players, including Ada Hegerberg, Eugenie Le Sommer, Wendie Renard, Dzsenifer Marozsán and more.  

Macario won the Hermann Trophy as the nation's best collegiate player in 2018 and 2019 and tallied 63 goals and 47 assists in 68 NCAA matches. She teamed with current U.S. forward and Portland Timbers rising talent Sophia Smith to lead the Cardinal to the 2017 and 2019 national championships.

The Brazil-born 21-year-old recently became a U.S. citizen, clearing a path for her to become eligible to represent the USWNT. While that process is not yet complete, U.S. Soccer said it is in its final stages upon including her in a second senior national team camp in four months.

With the Pac-12 among those moving its women's soccer season to the spring, Macario could have played on at Stanford but has elected to pursue a pro career instead.

"This was not an easy decision by any means because, even after having fulfilled my graduation requirements, I wanted to compete for another championship with my teammates and represent Stanford as a senior. This program means the world to me; I would not be the person nor player I am today without it and I will be forever grateful for the coaches, teammates, fans, medical, equipment & media staff for making my time on The Farm so unforgettable," Macario wrote in a statement.

Macario opted to go abroad instead of joining NWSL, whose draft is slated for Wednesday night. Had she entered the league, she would have been a shoo-in to be taken first overall. League commissioner Lisa Baird confirmed Tuesday that her rights may not be drafted now that she has officially signed a contract with another pro club.

She's the second Stanford player to pursue a career in France over NWSL in recent years, following in the footsteps of USWNT defender Alana Cook, who is currently on the books at PSG. Macario was reportedly being courted by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich as well.