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Whitney Engen definitively rules out NWSL in 2017

Boston Breakers captain Whitney Engen clears up her status for this season.

Soccer: Women's World Cup Champions Celebration Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After several months of speculation and increasingly solid hints from head coach Matt Beard, Whitney Engen has confirmed she will not play in NWSL in 2017.

Engen joined the Boston Breakers for the 2016 season, brought in by Beard after they’d already established a working partnership at Liverpool in the FAWSL. She immediately established herself as a team leader and was given the captain’s armband.

But at the end of the season came bad news: Engen was released from the US women’s national team by Jill Ellis, a move that Engen said “devastated” her.

Beard was never very up on Engen returning to the team after that; in repeated interviews he also mentioned how much getting cut from the WNT hurt Engen. “She’s dedicated her life to the national team,” he said at the NWSL College Draft.

Engen started and played in 14 games for Boston in 2016, logging 1,260 minutes with one goal and one assist.

Meanwhile, Beard has been making plans seemingly under the assumption that Engen would not return with defensive trades, although he picked no central defenders at the draft. Engen will certainly require a strong replacement to help control the Breakers back line, especially with fellow central defender Kassey Kallman also traded to the Washington Spirit.

Engen is 29 years old, which for a defender is certainly not a sign she should be put out to pasture. But her statement also mentions stepping away from soccer itself, not just the Breakers or NWSL, which is entirely her right after receiving an emotional blow like the one Ellis dealt her. Hopefully Engen lands in a place where she is happy, and perhaps even returns to the game someday, in whatever capacity.