Brazilian superstar Marta joined the Orlando Pride back in 2017 and re-signed with the club on an Allocation Money deal on Feb. 17, 2021. That was a one-year contract with a club option year and the Pride exercised that option for 2022 last December.
Reports out of preseason camp were incredibly encouraging. In recent years, Marta has at times looked like only a shadow of her former self, but there were many saying she looked to be playing as she did in her prime during camp. In fact, when she got on the field publicly, she did look good — quicker and just as dangerous as she had always been. However, what looked to be a bounceback season was halted quickly when the Brazilian went down with a knee injury during the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup and was lost for the season.
Let’s look back at her all-too-brief 2022 campaign.
Marta appeared in just two matches during the preseason Challenge Cup, starting both, and playing 121 minutes. After going the distance in the scoreless opening draw against the Washington Spirit, she played 31 minutes in the road loss at North Carolina on March 26 before being forced out with a season-ending knee injury. In her 121 minutes, Marta did not score or assist on a goal, firing four shot attempts with one on target. Her passing was on point, connecting at an 84.9% rate and hit 80% of her long passes. Defensively, she had two clearances and two interceptions. She committed three fouls, getting booked once, and drew three fouls from the opposition.
There isn’t much to choose from in a season cut so short. We’re going with her Challenge Cup-opening, full-match performance in the 0-0 draw against the defending champion Washington Spirit. Marta made all four of her shot attempts on the season in that game, getting one on target, having one blocked, and missing the target twice. She committed and drew three fouls and was shown a yellow card, accounting for all of the disciplinary statistics of her 2022 season. Although she didn’t get on the scoresheet, Marta did show well in the match and looked threatening.
2022 Final Grade
With only 121 minutes played, Marta didn’t get enough playing time to earn a fair grade for her season. She’ll get an incomplete rating for 2022 from The Mane Land staff after receiving a 6 out of 10 last year. There is no telling what might have become of the 2022 Pride with a healthy Marta. Perhaps she could have turned some close losses into draws and some draws into wins, which might have turned the tide just enough for Orlando to squeak into the postseason. We’ll never know.
Marta is out of contract and per an NWSL rules update, she is eligible for free agency, having played six NWSL seasons. She will be 37 and coming off a major knee injury when the 2023 preseason camp opens. Although her age and knee injury will raise alarm bells with any prospective team, there will likely still be several teams interested in signing the multi-time FIFA World Player of the Year. While her experience and quality would be an asset, she might not be 100% until mid-season. She also won’t be terribly budget friendly unless she’s willing to take less money in 2023 so as to not require Allocation Money. My gut says the Pride may try to sign her to a one-year deal — possibly with an additional club option year — but it would hardly be bad business to move on from Marta, despite her quality and experience and the fact that she holds a green card.