A New Pasture for the G.O.A.T.:
Marta, regarded as one of the greatest women’s players of all time, has arrived in America … for the fourth time. This time she can be found in the National Women’s Soccer League, playing with the Orlando Pride. Marta Vieira da Silva comes to Orlando from Brazil via Sweden, where she has played with FC Rosengard since 2014. Simply known as Marta to many supporters and fans around the globe, she has well-earned her nickname of G.O.A.T. Marta has won the FIFA Player of the Year 5 times (2006-2010), won Silver at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics while representing Brazil, and holds the record for most goals scored in Women’s World Cup play with 15.
The 31-year-old striker and native of Dois Riachos, Alagoas, Brazil certainly has a recognizable name and a superb set of skills to match that. Marta is known for her flair, her blazing speed and her ability to score magnificent goals in the blink of an eye. But she also brings a variety of championship experience, having won at the club level just about every year: Umea IK (Sweden, 2005-2008), Santos (Brazil, 2009), FC Gold Pride (USA, 2010), Western New York Flash (USA, 2011), Tyreso FF (Sweden, 2012), and FC Rosengard (Sweden, 2014-2015). Her remarkable accomplishments may be enough for some but it’s clear Marta wants more trophies.
Marta came on as a substitute for Orlando in their season opener this past weekend against Washington. She may not have gotten on the score sheet but her presence alone had a slight effect on the game; the crowd roared to life when she stepped on the field and eventually Orlando did manage to grab a point out of the 1-1 draw. It will take a bit of time to adjust to her new city and new teammates, but I am not worried one bit that Marta will find her footing soon enough with Orlando.
Rapinoe Scorcher Helps Seattle Win:
Megan Rapinoe has returned to form! Also known as 2012 when she had a standout year for the National team during their run to gold …. Ok, maybe not completely 100% returned, but we certainly saw a flash or two of it on Saturday when Seattle beat Houston at Memorial Stadium. In the Reign’s 5-1 thrashing of the Dash, Rapinoe’s goal was perhaps the most electric. It was the second goal of the night for the Bois of Seattle and it was assisted by another blonde playmaker in Jess Fishlock. The Tiny Dragon placed a neat ball over the top of the Houston defense for Rapinoe to run onto and from 18 yards out she hit a stunning volley into the back of the net.
Rapinoe now has scored in consecutive games for the first time since 2014 when she also netted goals in the first two weeks of the season. Rapinoe has the ability to turn a game around with either a goal or an assist, and in this game we saw a little glimpse of what kind of season she is set to have. She obviously got her name on the score sheet but Rapinoe was active all game up and down the flanks, providing service and creating opportunities for her teammates. It really did seem like I was watching a game from 2012 and that is a good feeling to have as a Reign Supporter.
In front of an underwhelming crowd of 2,727, the Reign certainly put on a satisfying performance, came away with everyone somewhat healthy (Merritt Mathias left the game with a good size bump on her forehead after colliding with Bruna Benites in the 37th minute), and three big points to their name.
Lyon Run This City:
In the first leg of the semi-final blockbuster Champions League match between Lyon and Manchester City, it was the French powerhouse that earned a 3-1 victory. Leading up to it, many media outlets tagged it as the Carli Lloyd vs Alex Morgan showdown, but it was bigger than just the Americans playing overseas. The match included a penalty given in the second minute off a Lloyd handball, and continued with Lyon dominating large portions of the game. But maybe, most of all, the game was about Dzsenifer Marozsan and Eugenie Le Sommer dazzling the fans while each scoring a goal in front of a crowd of 3,614.
While the penalty was caused by Lloyd to give Lyon the lead early on, it won’t define her Champions League experience if City can turn it around in the second leg on April 29th. This was Manchester’s first loss since October of 2015. Morgan, on the other hand, had a quiet outing, but it’s her Lyon team who now have the advantage for the next game. To be fair, while both teams are clearly rich with talent, I do think Lyon have the better overall team and should finish off them in the second leg with no problem.
Boston Breaks Through:
The Boston Breakers have already won a game and it’s only week two. Not only did they grab the convincing victory, they saw Natasha Dowie earn her fist goal on the season and rookie Rose Lavelle got her first assist as a pro. With the home opener and a 1-0 win over Sky Blue in the books, they showed potential all across the board for the future.
Midfielder Lavelle has brought a dose of trickery and silky-smooth passing, goalkeeper Abby Smith was up for the challenge, making four crucial saves, and Margaret Purce brought insane energy in the 26 minutes she grabbed in the second half. The backline of Megan Oyster, Julie King, Christen Westphal and Allysha Chapman had a bounce-back game after a rough week one in KC. This team showed serious potential and I think they could surprise many people this season if they can put in that kind of effort consistently.
PFA Awards Handed Out:
The Professional Footballers Association gave out its annual hardware on Sunday and plenty of big names were recognized in the women’s game. Commonly referred to as PFA, it is an England-based event and this year was no different. Three winners that stood out were Kelly Smith, Lucy Bronze, and Jess Carter.
Smith, who recently retired, was honored with the Special Achievement Award for her lifetime commitment to the game. She brought attention to England that no other had done before and she was an exceptional player throughout her long career. Another player honored was Bronze, who received the Player of the Year award, the first player to do so for consecutive years in the PFA’s 44 years of existence. Quite a remarkable notion and Bronze is deserving of it as her play for club and country have been so enjoyable to watch. The last woman to be honored was Jess Carter, who plays her club ball for Birmingham City LFC and was awarded the Young Player of the Year.
NWSL Championship Location Announced:
Get your plans in motion, your friends on notice, and your bank account ready. The 2017 NWSL Championship game will be played in Orlando, Florida at Orlando City Stadium. The date is set for Saturday, October 14th with the time to be determined. The brand-new stadium recently debuted and it can hold over 25k, which will surely be enough seats for the final.
The age-old question soon crept into my mind after it was announced, will this put more pressure on the Pride to do well and make it to the final in just their second season? To answer my own question, I don’t think it puts any added pressure that they don’t have on themselves for this season. They’ve got a talented roster with some key veterans (Ali Krieger, Laura Alleway, Ashlyn Harris) and young kids who can contribute (Danica Evans, Steph Catley, Chioma Ubogagu) and just added the world best player in Marta. They don’t need to worry about the NWSL championship just yet.