Whitney Engen sits out 2017
Whitney Engen playing for the Western New York Flash. (Source: Boston Breakers)

Whitney Engen sits out 2017

Ex-USWNT defender & Boston Breakers captain elects to miss the 2017 NWSL season.

ayana-cochran
Ayana Cochran

After a few months of slight anxiety and anticipation from NWSL fans, Whitney Engen finally announced her next career move, and it doesn’t involve soccer. Engen made the announcement via Twitter saying she’s stepping away from the game to “explore other passions to see where they lead.” Engen landed with the Boston Breakers after being involved in a three team trade to get goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to the Chicago Red Stars. She started and played 14 games for Boston in addition to tallying one goal and one assist for 2016. Although the Breakers unfortunately fell in last place, Engen was a strong leader for the Breakers and was cherished by the entire organization.

A fruitful career

Whitney Engen had a pretty successful professional playing career, although wasn’t always recognized. Her first team were the Pali Blues of USL W-League, which has seen a good number of national and international stars. She went forth to the Chicago Red Stars in the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) draft, which is said to be the strongest women’s draft class in recent history. After playing with the Western New York Flash, now the Carolina Courage, in 2011, she went on loan to a Swedish club Tyresö FF. Once the WPS folded, she went back to Pali Blues for the 2012 season.

She spent the 2013 season with Liverpool Ladies under the now Boston Breakers coach Matt Beard where they won the FA Cup. Engen moved back to Tyresö, but this time she was accompanied by USWNT players Christen Press, Ali Krieger, Meghan Klingenberg, and Ashlyn Harris where they finished second in the UEFA Champion’s League. She was taken in the 2014 NWSL expansion draft by the Houston Dash, and made 11 appearances, before being traded to the Flash for USWNT midfielder Carli Lloyd. She played 12 games for the Flash before heading to Boston.

Engen celebrates during the 8-0 win against Mexico|Source: Rick Egan - Getty Images

Engen had been a part of the USWNT for many years before being released by coach Jill Ellis in October 2016. Her first cap came during the 2011 Algarve Cup as a substitute in the second half against Norway. She missed the 2011 World Cup but still received call-ups and participated in camps that year. After being named to the 2012 Algarve Cup roster, she didn’t make any appearances in that competition in addition to not being named to the 2012 Olympic roster later that year.

Despite those setbacks, Engen played excellently in the 2013 Algarve Cup and various friendlies that year. She had great success in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying tournament that included her scoring two goals. After helping the USWNT win the 2015 World Cup, she was named to the 18 player 2016 Olympic roster where she made a single appearance against Colombia. Despite experiencing challenges with the national team, Engen has been praised endlessly by old coaches and teammates for being extremely talented and a wonderful leader.

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