A letter to our fans: Thank you for the memories pic.twitter.com/2WlEXvIWNq
— Whitney Engen (@whitneyengen) October 2, 2016
Engen, 28, first joined the senior national team fray in early 2010 and won her first cap during the 2011 Algarve Cup. She was on and off the roster for the next several years, missing out on the World Cup roster in 2011 and the Olympic team in 2012. Last summer Engen was part of the team that won the 2015 World Cup in Canada although she was the only field player in the squad that did not make an appearance. At the Olympic Games earlier this year Engen was the third center back and started two games in the group stage in place of Julie Johnston, who was carrying an injury. In all Engen has made 40 appearances for the full national team and has registered four goals.
On the club side, Engen was part of a vaunted North Carolina class that won national championships in 2006, 2008, and 2009. Following a dominant senior season she was drafted No. 4 overall by the Chicago Red Stars in the 2010 WPS draft. Engen and the three players taken ahead of her–Tobin Heath, Lauren Cheney (now Holiday), and Kelley O’Hara–were all on the 2015 World Cup team as were Alyssa Naeher (No. 11) and Ashlyn Harris (No. 19). After a year in Chicago the Red Stars dropped out of WPS and Engen signed with the Western New York Flash. With Marta and Christine Sinclair scoring the goals and taking the headlines, Engen anchored the defense and was named WPS Defender of the Year. The Flash wound up as WPS champions.
The demise of WPS saw Engen move to Pali Blues, then to Liverpool and Tyreso where she again played with Marta. In 2014 she returned stateside as an allocated player to the Houston Dash. The Dash traded Engen to Flash in the fall of 2014 in the deal that sent Carli Lloyd to Houston. Following another season in Western New York she was traded to the Breakers with a paper stop back in Chicago inserted into her offseason. Engen, who has yet to appear in an NWSL playoff match, started and played every minute in 14 of the Breakers’ 20 matches in 2016. Her goal against FC Kansas City on May 22 snapped the Breakers’ long goalless drought and stood up as the only score in the club’s first win of the season.
Engen’s exit from the national team means she will not be subsidized again in 2017. The Breakers have the option to hold on to her NWSL rights. Engen’s tweet did not mention NWSL but did suggest she believes her best years are still ahead of her.
Engen joins Heather O’Reilly and Hope Solo as 2016 Olympic players not expected back with the team. O’Reilly announced her retirement and recently had a sendoff match against Thailand. Solo was suspended six months and had her contract terminated after making controversial comments following the U.S. loss to Sweden.