by Nancy Armour USA TODAY
The U.S. women just got better.
FIFA cleared Brazilian-born Catarina Macario to play for the United States on Wednesday, making her eligible for the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Macario is in camp with the U.S. women, and will likely make her debut with the World Cup champions in next week’s friendlies against Colombia.
Macario moved to the United States when she was 12 and, despite overtures from Brazil, made it clear she wanted to play for her adopted country. A FIFA rules change earlier this year sped up the process, starting the clock on a five-year waiting period from when a player arrives in his or her new country, rather than on their 18th birthday. Macario, 21, became a U.S. citizen Oct. 8, and immediately asked FIFA to approve her eligibility change.
“Just to be in this position is a dream come true and I’ll never take any of it for granted,” she said in a release from U.S. Soccer.
Macario won two national titles at Stanford and was twice named winner of the Hermann Trophy, given to the best collegiate soccer player. She led the nation in goals and assists her junior season, her last at Stanford.
Macario announced last week that she was turning professional, and on Tuesday signed with Olympique Lyonnais, the top club in Europe.
“The training environment, in which I’ll be with the best players in the world, I’m just looking to have that every day,” Macario said on a USWNT conference call Tuesday. “By doing that, I will hopefully become this great player a lot of people expect me to be. I’m very thankful to all the compliments but, at the same time, I’ve yet to play a professional game.”