In a Monday afternoon social media post, Whitney Engen announced that she would not be returning to play in the NWSL in the 2017 season.
“At this time I have made the decision to step away from soccer and will not be playing the 2017 NWSL season. I am currently exploring other passions and want to see where they may lead,” Engen said in the statement to fans.
While the statement says the 29-year-old Boston Breakers and former-USWNT defender is not returning in 2017, it’s worth noting that Engen is not officially retiring from the sport and the statement is worded so as to leave open the possibility for a return in future seasons.
Engen’s return to Boston has been in question ever since the end of the 2016 season. On October 2, Engen published a statement to her fans on social media saying Jill Ellis had informed her that she would not be invited into future national team camps, signaling that her time with the USWNT was over.
“At this time I am not sure what role soccer will play in my future,” Engen said in her October statement. “I am going to take some time with my family and decide what comes next on and off the field.”
First called up to the national team in 2010, Engen has since made 40 appearances for the USWNT, the first of which came during the 2011 Algarve Cup. She continued to be on the USWNT roster for the next several years, although she came short of being named to either the 2011 World Cup or 2012 Olympic rosters. Engen was named to the 2015 team that went on to win the World Cup, but she was the lone field player to not see any tournament minutes. She was named to the 2016 Olympic roster and started in two group match games while starting center back Julie Johnston struggled with a groin injury.
Engen began her professional soccer career in 2010, when she was the Chicago Red Starts took her as the No.4 pick in the WPS college draft. After the Red Stars dropped out of the league following Engen’s rookie season, she signed with the Western New York Flash, where she won the WSP Championship and was named Defender of the Year. When the WPS folded, she played with the Pali Blues before playing overseas with Liverpool Ladies and Tyreso.
In 2014, Engen returned to the States and joined the NWSL’s Houston Dash as an allocated player. That fall the Dash made a trade for Carli Lloyd that sent Engen to the Flash, where she played for another season before being traded to the Boston Breakers by way of Chicago. For the Breakers Engen played every minute of the 14 matches she appeared in in 2016. Her goal against FC Kansas City on May 22 was the game winner in Boston’s first win of the season.
Engen’s full statement to fans is below.
To the Women's Soccer Faithful… pic.twitter.com/Ngqm1NX1zi
— Whitney Engen (@whitneyengen) February 6, 2017