This question was submitted by Taylor B.
I think she has a shot! It’s difficult to make a firm prediction here, given that this award has only been given three times on the women’s side, and Catarina Macario’s professional soccer career is just 16 months old. Regardless, I think she’s on her way to making a case for herself.
First of all, Macario is no stranger to trophies. In her three seasons at Stanford University, she won two NCAA Division I championships and three Pac-12 titles. She was also awarded the MAC Hermann Trophy, which honors the United Soccer Coaches National Player of the Year in NCAA Division I men’s and women’s soccer, twice in back-to-back years.
Macario opted to forgo her senior season in January 2021, finishing her career at Stanford with 63 goals 47 assists over 69 games. She ultimately signed with Olympique Lyonnais Féminin in France in the same month and debuted for the United States Women’s National Team shortly after.
Since her January 2021 debut with the USWNT, she’s appeared 17 times and contributed eight goals and two assists. Her seven minutes in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were shocking for fans that watched the USWNT struggle to a bronze medal, but I think her time with the national team is coming. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski thinks so too, considering he’s gone on record saying that Macario is on her way to becoming one of the best players in the world.
With Lyon this season, Macario has played in 17 matches, starting 15 times and scoring 13 goals while contributing 4 assists. She’s also been a key part of the team’s UEFA Women’s Champions League success, having played in 10 matches and scoring seven goals with two assists. With her help, OL has returned to the Champions League final, which will be played at the end of this month.
For her play this season, Macario has been nominated for the Trophées UNFP, which is a set of awards for players in France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 given by the National Union of Professional Football Players. She’s specifically in the running for the Meilleure Joueuse, the league’s best player award.
It’s worth mentioning that Macario worked her way into a starting lineup, onto the scoresheet, and onto a Trophées UNFP shortlist on a team (and in a league!) that also includes some of international women’s soccer’s biggest names. One of those names is Ada Hegerberg, the first-ever Ballon d’Or Féminin winner. Not bad.
The best part about Macario’s success to this point is that she’s only 22 years old and nowhere near her ceiling. If Macario continues on this upward trajectory, there’s no doubt in my mind that she’ll be key to the USWNT’s success in July’s 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, the 2023 Women’s World Cup (should the USWNT qualify…), and beyond.
And if she stays the course, I have a feeling there might be a Ballon d’Or in her future.