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March 24, 2010 > Brazilian superstar Marta joins the Pride

Brazilian superstar Marta joins the Pride

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.

FC Gold Pride, the Bay Area's Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) club continues to reduce its roster in preparation for its regular season opener on Sunday, April 11, at St. Louis against the Athletica, but the team's most noticeable difference was the arrival of four-time FIFA Player of the Year, Marta, to the practice field.

"It's just exciting to have her here," said Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya, whose club has been training for nine days before her arrival on Tuesday. "We've looked good in our preseason thus far and all along we've been saying, 'Gosh, can you just imagine adding Marta with this puzzle.'

"Now that we have her here," Montoya added, "it's just a matter of getting her fit; slowly working her into the team; and finding the right position for her because we all know how dangerous she can be."

Marta, a member of the Brazilian Women's National Team, reported to training camp at the Mustang Soccer Complex in Dublin on Tuesday, March 16, two days after arriving in the States from her home in Brazil.

"Already I can tell the team is looking good," said Marta through a translator after the Pride's two-hour fitness training session. "We already have camaraderie ... I'm really happy."

Although Marta is the best player in the world (four years running), Montoya and his coaching staff still need to sit down with her and get her on the same page for the team's game plan for the 2010 regular season.

"We've been working on this for quite some time," said Montoya. "Marta just arrived here on Sunday (March 14) ... we still have to sit down with her and figure out what the plan is and work her into our team."

Marta played last season with the Los Angeles Sol in the inaugural season of WPS. When the Sol were unable to find a majority owner, they were forced to halt operations, and WPS held a dispersal draft to disperse the Sol players amongst the remaining eight clubs.

Marta was acquired by the Gold Pride in the WPS Dispersal Draft with the third selection.

"I was really surprised (when L.A. folded), since it's a new league," said Marta. "The league should be working harder to make sure team's aren't folding. Everyone else should be helping to make the league strong.

Earlier in the off season, the Pride traded for French National Team player and former Sol member Camille Abily. In addition, FC Gold Pride added other ex-Sol members Brittany Cameron (free agency) and Kiki Bosio (dispersal draft) making the transition to a new team for Marta a bit easier.

"In joining the team here, (with my teammates from L.A.) it helps a lot," said Marta.

Marta will join Abily, along with Canadian National Team member Christine Sinclair, 2010 first round draft pick Kelley O'Hara (Stanford) and Tiffeny Milbrett to create what some believe to be an unstoppable offense. Marta is looking forward to making that happen.

"I'm happy because I'm working with the players with such a high level," said Marta. "We're all going to work together to make sure the team is successful."

"It's going to be exciting having her with Sinclair and Abily and Kelley O'Hara ... we're so dangerous in the attack, and it makes it very exciting for us."

In a year, the Gold Pride has gone from statistically the worst offense (17 goals) to one of the best. (Marta and Abily alone outscored the Pride, 18-17, last season.) Now coach Montoya and crew have an overload of offensive talent and only so many positions on the field to put them.

"The luxury we have this year is that we have options to play different formations," said Montoya. "Right now, I think a 4-3-3 (4 defenders; 3 midfielders; 3 forwards) would suit us well, especially with the attacking players we have. Preseason will determine if that's the right combination to do.

"I think this year we'll be able to address certain needs so I can build a team around our needs because we're deep at several positions," Montoya continued, recollecting that last year's club didn't have nearly as much depth as it currently consists. "It's going to be a challenging job here for the coaching staff to put it all together."

With all the talent throughout the club, the Brazilian star Marta feels there is only one goal for her, and the Gold Pride: "It's definitely to win the championship."

FC Gold Pride plays its final preseason game against the University of San Francisco women's soccer team on Thursday, March 25, 7:30 p.m. at Negoesco Stadium. Gold Pride opens the 2010 regular season at St. Louis against the Athletica on Sunday, April 11, at 1 p.m. St. Louis time; home opener for the Pride is Saturday, April 17, 7:30 p.m. against defending champion Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey) at Castro Valley High School Athletic Stadium.

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