NWSL's Orlando Pride sign Brazilian star Marta

The Orlando Pride have signed five-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Marta to a multi-year deal.

The deal for one of the game's biggest stars had been rumored weeks before the Pride made it official Friday.

"Marta's resume speaks for itself. She is not only the best player in the world, she is a player that fills one of our biggest needs on the field," Orlando City general manager Niki Budalic said. "Our goal this offseason was to evaluate our first year's performance and give the Pride the best tools for success in 2017 and forward."

Known by just her first name, Marta Vieira da Silva has scored 106 goals in 109 international appearances with the Brazilian national team. She has the most Women's World Cup goals with 15. She has 10 Olympic goals, tying her for third on the career list with former U.S. star Abby Wambach.

The Pride signed her to a two-year deal with an option for a third. Her arrival in Orlando is pending the receipt of her visa and international transfer certificate, the team said.

Marta is expected to make her debut in the Pride's NWSL season opener against the Thorns in Portland, Oregon, on April 15.

It is not Marta's first stint in the United States. She played from 2009-11 in the now-defunct WPS and helped the Western New York Flash to the league title in 2011.

The 31-year-old forward most recently played at the club level for Rosengard in Sweden, leading the team to Damallsvenskan titles in 2014 and 2015.

Marta grew up playing street soccer with the boys in Dois Riachos, a town in eastern Brazil some 1,250 miles north of Rio de Janeiro. She was only 17 when she appeared at the 2003 World Cup, held in the United States.

For the 2006 season, Marta won the first of an unprecedented five straight FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Dubbed "Pele in skirts," Marta scored seven goals at the 2007 World Cup in China, but Brazil finished as runner-up in the tournament after falling to Germany 2-0 in the final.

With Marta, the Brazilians won the silver medal at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. Her duel with U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo in the final at the Beijing Games was considered epic. Carli Lloyd scored the game-winner in extra time for the Americans, but it was Solo who fended off a point-blank shot from Marta in the 72nd minute.

"With Marta you have to have a little extra attention to her, even though our team defense is really good and really organized. That's a compliment to her," Solo said during the Rio Olympics. "I have played for coaches in the past who thought we could just play our style of soccer against Marta, and we've been punished for it. So I'm very aware that we have to pay extra attention to her."

While considered one of the game's all-time greats, Marta was not widely recognized in her native Brazil until last summer's Olympics.

Early in the tournament, when the eventual gold-winning Brazilian men's team and star Neymar were struggling, some fans crossed out his name on their No. 10 jerseys and wrote in hers in magic marker. At one match, fans cheered her by chanting "Better Than Neymar."

Brazil's women fell to Canada for the bronze medal at the Games. Afterward there was speculation she may retire from international play but she told reporters she hadn't made a decision yet.

Despite her storied career, Marta has not won a major international title with Brazil.

"It's very exciting. You don't often get a player of this caliber to coach and come into your team," Pride coach Tom Sermanni said in an interview with the team's website. "It's fantastic for me as a coach, it's fantastic for the players, and it's fantastic for the club."

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW
Stats provided by

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 May 2017 23:27:50 Processing Time: 1377ms