This morning marked a historic day for the young Orlando Pride franchise, as the club officially welcomed five-time world player of the year Marta as the newest addition to the team. The Pride introduced the Brazilian to assembled Orlando media in a morning press conference at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary.
“A very special day for our organization,” Pride CEO Alex Leitao said. “Today we bring in the greatest of all time to the Orlando Pride.”
Here she is! Marta is officially introduced as an Orlando Pride player. pic.twitter.com/UAovyoXFzu— The Mane Land (@TheManeLand) April 21, 2017
“What Marta brings to us are two very important things,” Leitao added. “One, of course, her talent, her quality on the field that hopefully will help us a lot in getting our results and our goal, which is win. Secondly, her mentality. Marta is a winner and that’s exactly what we need in order to build the winning mentality of our club.”
The Brazilian forward arrived in Orlando on a late flight Thursday night and was welcomed to the airport by dozens of Pride fans.
Right off the bat, Marta was asked about her decision to come back to the U.S. to play, having last played for the Western New York Flash in 2011 with current Pride players Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan. She talked about the dedication and commitment the Orlando City ownership has put towards making the Pride successful being the most prevalent part of her decision to choose Orlando as her new home.
When asked about her status for Saturday and if she was exhausted from her travels, she said, “The happiness I feel right now overcomes being tired. I look forward to meeting all the girls and speaking to the coach and hope to play this Saturday.”
With two other Brazilian national team players on the Pride already — Camila and Monica — and already having played with Harris, Marta already has a bit of a comfort level with the team.
"I've had the privilege of playing with some of the players and I follow a few of them on social media,” she said. “I also know the other Brazilian girls and have had the opportunity to talk to them, although we haven't talked about the technical aspect of the game. But i'm sure they will fill me in later at practice."
At practice, Head Coach Tom Sermanni was thrilled to have a talented goal scorer like Marta join his team.
“With Marta joining us, that’s a huge boost to the team, to the players and to the club,” he said. “I think we have a team and a style of play that will fit around her. She’s an experienced player. She’s used to playing in several different clubs and different countries, international tournaments, so I don’t envision her having a great deal of time needed to settle herself into the team.”
Of course, the question on her status for Saturday’s opener came up and Sermanni reiterated his thoughts he shared on Media Day last week.
“I’m hoping that she’ll be on the field,” Sermanni said, “When that is, I don’t know just now, but I haven’t seen or spoken to her. She’s done a lot of travel over the last couple of days. She’s had a huge number of commitments today, so we need to weigh up all those considerations. She’ll be in the squad and I’m very confident she’ll be on the field tomorrow.”
The Pride play their home opener tomorrow against the Washington Spirit.