The Orlando Pride ended the Washington Spirit’s unbeaten streak and Marta scored her first league goal since 2021 during Saturday’s regular season NWSL matchup at Exploria Stadium.
After Pride forward Adriana was taken down in the box in the 21st minute, Marta stepped to the spot. The 37-year-old Brazilian star successfully converted the penalty, sending Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury diving the wrong way. She celebrated with a scream, and then made a heart with her hands.
“I just thought, ‘Yes, we scored! I scored a penalty,'” Marta reflected post-game. “I think it’s double pressure because if you miss, you don’t know how the game is going to go for you and for your team. I was so happy that I (scored) and that we won this game.”
Marta, who is aiming to compete at her sixth Women’s World Cup this summer, missed the entire 2022 NWSL season after tearing her ACL in March 2022.
“Any forward wants to get that feeling back and it’s a testament to her recovery, coming back from a long-term injury,” said Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines. “You don’t want anyone else stepping up for that penalty other than her. She’s been in that moment so often on the biggest stage. We had full confidence in her hitting the back of the back of net.”
While the Spirit responded just moments later — thanks to a beautiful Sam Staab header — the Pride regained the lead in the 77th minute when Marta assisted a goal by Kylie Strom. (Video of all three goals is embedded below.)
With the 2-1 win, the Pride are now unbeaten in their last four regular season NWSL games — a strong statement after the squad opened the season with four straight losses. They also handed the Washington Spirit — the final remaining unbeaten NWSL team — their first loss.
“Beating the (team at the) top of the table just shows that the players can go away full of confidence knowing that they can beat anyone in the league now,” Hines said.
“It probably is a statement to the league that we are here to win and here to stay and to perform.”
Orlando makes it 4️⃣ straight unbeaten with big result against Washington!#ORLvWAS presented by @Nationwide pic.twitter.com/JbqcnuwIE7— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) May 21, 2023
Orlando makes it 4️⃣ straight unbeaten with big result against Washington!#ORLvWAS presented by @Nationwide pic.twitter.com/JbqcnuwIE7