Months of anticipation has led to news which, in retrospect, seemed inevitable, according to multiple sources: Catarina Macario has signed with five-time reigning European champions Lyon on a deal which runs through the end of the 2022-23 European season.
The news comes as Macario starts the new year in camp with the United States women’s national team. She is yet to make her senior-team debut as she awaits final FIFA approval — following her earning U.S. citizenship in late 2020. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were the other teams to make competitive offers, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Lyon, however, has tracked Macario for some time, and the interest quickly became mutual upon the player’s decision to turn professional. She has already put pen to paper with Lyon.
Macario announced on Friday that she was turning professional and would not play her senior season at Stanford, which was delayed until the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s interesting is this: since Macario has already signed, she is already a professional player and therefore should not be eligible — not even her rights — for Wednesday’s NWSL College Draft. An NWSL team would have to place a discovery claim on her rights to try to get her to play in the league in the future. Macario signing for two and a half years, however, makes that seem like a fruitless claim.
Dahlkemper to Manchester City
United States defender Abby Dahlkemper has signed with Manchester City, according to three sources with knowledge of the deal. Dahlkemper has been a part of the North Carolina Courage/Western New York Flash franchise since turning professional in 2015, when she was drafted third overall by the Flash. She has been an anchor at center back, leading the team to three National Women’s Soccer League championships. She was an integral part of the U.S.’ 2019 World Cup triumph.
Dahlkemper will join fellow U.S. international Sam Mewis (who left the Courage over the summer) and Rose Lavelle at Manchester City. Competition will be significant for Dahlkemper; City already have England (and club) captain Steph Houghton, plus Gemma Bonner and Alex Greenwood as center-back options.
Dahlkemper’s departure puts the Courage in a precarious place, having also lost U.S. internationals Sam Mewis and Crystal Dunn (via trade to Portland Thorns FC). North Carolina had built a small dynasty, but the Courage have now lost six of their 11 starters from the 2019 NWSL Championship (plus McCall Zerboni). Paul Riley’s underdog mantra might actually ring true in 2021; the Courage are in rebuild mode.
Word came through late last week that Dahlkemper had declined NWSL federation status from U.S. Soccer, indicating that change might be afoot. Dahlkemper had the chance to make similar money staying in North Carolina, a source with knowledge says, but wanted a new experience at Manchester City.
The Dahlkemper news comes as change continues to the U.S. Soccer/NWSL dynamics, including an ongoing evolution of the federation system which now allows U.S. players to turn down federation status in order to seek allocation money from their NWSL team. U.S. federation players in the NWSL in 2021 will be paid significantly more than originally laid out in the collective bargaining agreement due to the extended season. Tier 1 players were due to make $77,500 and Tier 2 players, $72,500, in 2021, but those numbers are now $99,642.86 for Tier 1 and $93,214.29 for Tier 2. Those are significant increases and mean that a player turning down federation status for NWSL allocation money is certainly making six figures annually just from their club.
NWSL College Draft pool updates
NWSL expansion side Racing Louisville FC, which holds the No. 1 pick in Wednesday’s draft, might be at least slightly offset by news on Monday that University of North Carolina junior and U.S. youth international Brianna Pinto has declared for the draft. She is easily one of the best available talents in the draft — although who exactly is available and willing to play in the NWSL remains a mystery, a frustration that has been expressed around the league of late. The NWSL recently made all college seniors eligible to be drafted based on a lack of initial registration.
One prospect who won’t be heading to the NWSL is Malia Berkely. The redshirt senior at Florida State is expected to sign for Bordeaux in France. She was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in 2019. That can be considered another young talent lost for the NWSL.
U.S. Soccer president and VP races
Cindy Parlow Cone will run unopposed to carry on as president of U.S. Soccer for another year. She assumed the role in March 2020, replacing Carlos Cordeiro after he resigned. The upcoming nomination was to complete the final year of Cordeiro’s term, which Parlow Cone will see out. There will be another election next year.
The newly-elected vice president will serve for three years to complete the term which began in February 2020 and was vacated by Parlow Cone. Former U.S. men’s national team player Cobi Jones, Metropolitan DC-Virginia Soccer Association president Jim Sadowski, Idaho Youth Soccer Association president Bill Taylor and US Youth Soccer vice chair and U.S. Soccer Board of Directors Youth Council Representative Tim Turney are the four candidates for VP.
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