USWNT star Catarina Macario makes winning debut with Lyon

Macario came on in the 37th minute of the first half and contributed to a 2-1 victory over Montpelier

By Ken Browne

It's all new in the whirlwind life of Catarina Macario.

A couple of weeks ago she was making her debut and scoring her first goal for the United States Women's National Team, now she's had her first taste of European football with new club Olympique Lyonnaise in France.

Brought on in the first half with the score tied at 1-1, Macario helped the team to a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Montpelier at home.

Macario came into the game in minute 37' replacing striker Amandine Henry who had opened the scoring after just four minutes in, Montpelier hitting straight back through Clarisse Le Bihan on 6'.

When Macario entered the field of play it took just three minutes for Lyon to retake the lead.

The USA star was involved on the edge of the box working space to shoot and when the rebound from Macaraio's effort fell to Sakina Karchaoui, her powerful drive took a nick off Montpelier's Elisa de Almeida and nestled in the back of the net.

That made it 2-1 to the hosts and they held firm to win by that scoreline, keeping the pressure on league leaders PSG who are just a point ahead of Lyon in a two-horse race for the league title.

Crucially, Macario has that first game under her belt and now she's ready to set about doing in Europe what she did for Stanford:

Dominate.

"I'm very happy to have made my debut with OL, it's a dream for me," the 21-year-old said after the game.

"I know there's room for improvement, I will have to get used to the French style of play. I'm very happy to be in this team."

Catarina Macario: USWNT Next gen

Macario joins Lyon with a stellar record for Stanford scoring 63 goals in 68 games for the university.

But when an offer came in from the most successful women's team in Europe, Macario simply couldn't say no and said goodbye to college soccer before her senior year in order to turn professional.

On signing she said you'd have to "live under a rock" not to know of OL's reputation in the world.

"Of course I knew about it. Every woman that plays soccer strives to want to play for OL because it is the best team and the best club in the world. When they contacted me, I couldn't believe it. The fact that I'm actually here makes me so happy".

Born in Brazil, she moved to the States at 12 years of age and is a U.S. citizen fully committed to the U.S. team.

On January 22 Macario opened her international account in a 6-0 mauling of Lima 2019 Pan-Am champs Colombia.

The girl who used to play with the boys in Brazil has swapped the American dream for the European dream with club side Lyon, but her allegiances are clear and in Macario the USA have a match-winning talent that many see as a future Olympic and World Cup winner.

Catarina Macario Lyon Debut

It was an impressive debut from Macario against a gritty Montpelier side that dug in, the young striker getting on the ball and trying to make things happen.

Her first touch, foot speed, reading of the game, and tenacity on the ball make her the complete package and she's a goal threat like few others in the world game.

While it'll take her a little bit of time to adjust to the pace, physicality and rhythm of the play in France, Macario showed enough on her debut to get Lyon and USA fans even more excited about what's to come.

OL are five-time straight Champions League winners and current holders, they haven't lost a French league title in 14, and are aiming for their 9th French Cup in a row this season.

But Paris Saint Germain have proved that they're serious contenders this term having strengthened their squad and Macario has been brought in to tip the balance in this domestic duel.

She also admitted that the Olympics played a part in her decision to move to France with coronavirus raging in the U.S. and uncertainty over lockdowns.

"I just wanted to have consistent playing" she said, "especially ahead of the Olympics".

With a game-changer like Macario in the ranks, both Lyon and the USWNT can look forward to more success on the horizon.

For U.S. fans, that starts with her helping put the team back at the top of the Olympic podium at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020.