Sources say Marta, Brazil’s five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, is nearing a deal to join the NWSL's Orlando Pride. 

By Grant Wahl
April 06, 2017

Sources say Marta, Brazil’s five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, is nearing a deal to join the NWSL's Orlando Pride.

The contract would be for two years with an option for a third, and she would come on a free transfer from the Swedish club Rosengard, which was just eliminated by Barcelona in the UEFA Women's Champions League.

The maximum salary for a foreign player in the NWSL is only around $41,000 a year, but Marta earns far more from endorsements, and those companies are likely to be happy that she’s in the United States. This would be Marta's fourth U.S. club but first since 2011. She played with the Los Angeles Sol, FC Gold Pride and Western New York Flash in the defunct Women's Professional Soccer league.

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With Orlando, Marta could form a devastating attacking combination with U.S. women's national team star Alex Morgan, who is due back with the team upon the conclusion of her time in France with Champions League contender Lyon. Marta played briefly with two Orlando players, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, when they were all together with Swedish club Tyreso.

Orlando's NWSL season begins April 15 at the Portland Thorns in a game televised on Lifetime as part of the league's new TV deal.

Elsewhere in a busy week on the women's soccer front:

From talking to people on both sides, there’s a big sense of relief in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement of a new five-year CBA between U.S. Soccer and the U.S. women’s players. After 23 in-person negotiation days and three days of calls in 2017 alone, the U.S. players can get back to focusing entirely on what happens on the field, beginning with Thursday and Sunday friendlies against Russia in Texas.

While there are plenty of layers of details to the agreement, both sides wound up happy with certain aspects of the deal.

From the players’ side, they think it’s significant that they have the ability to control group likeness rights for licensing. From the federation’s side, they saw it as a big win that they were able to reduce the minimum number of players under contract from 24 under the previous agreement. There were 22 "federation players"–players whose salaries are subsidized by the NWSL–in the league's announcement Thursday, and there will be even fewer in future years.

Also interesting to glean from conversations is that Becky Sauerbrunn is now viewed as the de facto captain inside the team, due largely to her leadership role in labor talks. Carli Lloyd, the nominal captain, had reduced her role in labor talks after the players fired executive director Rich Nichols, whom Lloyd had supported.

Christen Press’s leadership role inside the team has also increased due to her role in the negotiations.