At No. 5 in our countdown of the club’s top moments of the year, the Orlando Pride added a major piece that helped create a near-unstoppable offense with the signing of world-renowned Brazilian international Marta.
With Alex Morgan deciding to take her talents overseas to Olympique Lyonnais for the first half of the NWSL season, a Pride attack that scored just 20 goals in 2016 looked to be in some serious trouble. Even with the injection of young attacking talent like Camila, Chioma Ubogagu, Rachel Hill, and Danica Evans, the Pride were missing an offensive cornerstone. Rumors swirled before a single cryptic tweet was sent out by Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao sent things into a fever pitch:
Pride fans went into a frenzy. Goat-related media dominated the Orlando soccer scene and everyone from the NWSL to FIFA took notice. #MartaWatch commenced with a sight that is becoming the norm at Orlando International Airport: A crowd of rowdy Orlando fans lining up in the main terminal. It was a welcome fit for a five-time Player of the Year.
Orlando found the answer in Marta and she did she ever deliver. She took the league by storm, finishing second in the league in both goals (13) and assists (six). Her combination with Morgan upon her return vaulted the Pride offense from one of the worst to the best, with the Brazilian contributing directly to almost half of Orlando’s 45 goals during the regular season. She led the Pride in most offensive statistical categories and turned in the best year on paper in the team’s young history.
Marta also added to her already overflowing personal trophy case, picking up Player of the Month for September, four Team of the Month honors, and earning an NWSL Best XI nod. She even picked up a Goal of the Week along the way.
Marta was the statement signing that the Pride needed and helped take them to the next level. After talk of making the playoffs and putting together a roster that was very much win-now but couldn’t live up to expectations in 2016, Marta was the crown jewel of several shrewd signings that turned the Pride into a juggernaut.
While Orlando may have fallen ultimately short of the final prize this season, the quick turnaround thanks to the new additions was a welcome sight. The prospect of Marta and Morgan combining again in 2018, along with improvement from the younger forwards, sets up the Pride for another season of fireworks up front.
Adding one of the most decorated players in the women’s game is more than worthy of a spot on our top 10 countdown for 2017.
Come back through New Year's Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City's top 10 moments of 2017.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2017
10. Orlando City trounces New England Revolution, 6-1.
9. Orlando Pride clobbers Sky Blue FC, 5-0.
8. OCB’s impressive 12-game unbeaten streak through the summer of 2017.
7. Orlando City adds Jonathan Spector and Scott Sutter to the defense.
6. Veteran USWNT defender Ali Krieger joins the Orlando Pride’s starting XI.