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2019 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Marta

The Brazilian missed much of the season on international duty but was again the class of the team when she was available.

Orlando Pride v Sky Blue FC Photo by Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Orlando Pride signed Brazilian superstar Marta back on April 7, 2017 in a bold move designed to pay off in the short term. It nearly worked, as she led the Pride to the team’s first ever playoff appearance in her first season but the club’s performance has slipped the last couple of seasons. This has, at times, led to Marta getting visibly frustrated in games or trying to do too much, but she continues to try to pull the offensive strings and win balls back whenever possible.

So how did five-time World Player of the Year do for the Pride in a season that saw her away for long spells with Brazil?

Statistical Breakdown

Marta made 14 appearances out of Orlando’s 24 matches (all starts), playing 1,254 minutes. Despite missing much of the season with international duty (five games) and injury (three games), and even a red card suspension (two games), she still led the team with six goals. Surprisingly, she did not record an assist, but that speaks more to her teammates’ finishing than her service, because she provided 26 key passes on the season, averaging nearly two per game. Despite appearing in just over half the team’s games, Marta led the club in shots (50) and tied for the team lead in shots on target (14). She connected on 78.8% of her total passes and a lofty 91.2% in her own half.

She finished the season with eight interceptions, two clearances, and a 68.4% tackle success rate. She committed 15 fouls and tied the team high by drawing 27. Marta received five yellow cards and one red card in 2019.

Best Game

Marta’s best match came July 6 when she and the other internationals returned from the World Cup in time to beat the Washington Spirit, 4-3, earning the team’s first home points of the 2019 campaign. She netted a brace in the match, scoring on both of her shot attempts in the game, and passed at an 84% rate for 89 minutes on the pitch. She committed one foul in the match but drew four free kicks from the Spirit.

After the Pride fell behind 1-0, Marta took a short pass from Erin Greening and sent the ball across the middle of the field to Jo Boyles, who hit a long ball with her first touch that led to Chioma Ubogagu’s equalizer in the 21st minute.

In the second half, after Washington had tied the match at 2-2, Marta scored her first of the game, taking a pass from Greening and firing home to give Orlando the lead in the 48th minute.

Marta then gave the Pride a two-goal lead at 4-2 with a crafty chip over Aubrey Bledsoe in the 78th minute off of a set piece. It turned out to be the game-winning goal because the Spirit added a late consolation score for the 4-3 final.

It was a vintage Marta performance and showed how much the team had missed her while she was away with Brazil, as it was the team’s largest scoring output in a game this season.

2019 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Marta a composite rating of 6.5 for the 2019 season. Considering the club’s struggles this past season and the grades of other players, Marta was a bright spot whenever she took the field. Her passion and desire to win is apparent and her quality stands out even when she’s drawing the attention of two or three defenders on the opposing team. While her 2019 grade is well below the 9 we gave her in 2017 and not quite as good as the 7 she got a year ago, she still stood out among the Pride’s players this year.

2020 Outlook

Marta was the first out-of-contract player re-signed by Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck for the 2020 season. She continues to play at a high level and will be counted on to provide offense and lead the team next season. Honestly, unless her production completely falls off the table or she decides she no longer wants to be in Orlando, I don’t see the club letting her walk away. It is possible she’ll finish her club career with the Pride. But, even if she doesn’t, it’s comforting knowing the Pride have locked her up for next season.

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