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Catarina Macario Is Just Getting Started


If Macario’s rise continues, and if she can beat out a who’s who of more experienced players — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Lynn Williams — for a place in the American attack, she could be headed to the Olympics by July, and to a World Cup by 2023.

“I think she is the future of what the U.S. women’s national team wants to be,” Macario’s former coach at Stanford, Paul Ratcliffe, said in a phone interview. “I envision they could build a team around her, that’s how highly I think of her as a player.”

Sometimes, she can hardly believe how far she has come, and how fast.

“To me, I’m essentially just this little kid that’s going to play with the best players in the world,” Macario said in a video call this spring from her apartment in Lyon, France. “It’s a little intimidating, but at the same time, that’s the challenge — that’s why I chose to be here.”

On the ball, Macario is eye-catchingly quick, powerful enough to create space, deft enough to leave defenders grasping at the ones she has vacated. After Macario’s first goal for the U.S. national team, Megan Rapinoe called her a “different kind of player.” Others have placed her on an higher plane: comparing her to Brazil’s six-time world player of the year, Marta.

Even in her childhood, Macario stood out. She says she can’t recall the number of lamps she and her older brother broke while playing soccer in their apartment in Brazil, but she remembers the hours she dedicated to extra training with her father before practices to nurture her talent. It was what she used to answer the discrimination, the obstacles and the people who told her a girl didn’t have a place in soccer, and show them she deserved one “based on what I did on the field.”

“Maybe,” she added, “I’m even better than you.”

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