After the Orlando Pride wrapped up training Thursday afternoon, Brazilian star Marta shared a long hug with Australian midfielder Alanna Kennedy.
The two returned to Pride training this week alongside three other international stars. Marta, Mônica and Poliana all returned to training Wednesday after marching undefeated through the 2018 Copa América Femenina with the Brazilian women’s national team in Chile.
Kennedy and Emily van Egmond were with the Australian women’s national team in Amman, Jordan, for the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
After weeks of international duty, Thursday’s training session – which was unexpectedly intense, according to Marta – included all of the Pride’s players.
“I feel super comfortable here,” Marta said through a translator. “It feels like home to me. To be honest, [it was] a very intensive practice. I didn’t expect that we were going to play 11 v. 11. But I’m super excited to be back home, especially this weekend.
“I think having all the players back is a little bit of a headache for the coach because we have way more options to put on the field. The most important thing is to get team ready. The more players we have, the more pieces we have back on the team, it only helps the team.”
The Pride (1-2-1, 4 points) are coming off their first win of the season, a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dash. They return to action Saturday at home against Seattle Reign FC (2-1-0, 6 points).
Marta said she didn’t have too much time to watch the Pride play while she was in Chile, but she watched has her club teammates take on the Portland Thorns. The Pride lost that match 2-1.
“We played very well, to be honest,” Marta said about the Portland game. “I thought that we were managing the game pretty well. Possibly, we needed to be more calm on the ball, but that’s something we can always get better with, with time and things like that.
“Obviously, we don’t like to lose. Just getting better, getting more calm on the ball and managing the team very well, that’s something that we can do.”
Van Egmond finally joins club
Of the club’s two Australian players, only Kennedy knows what it’s like to play for the Pride. Van Egmond was signed in the offseason and reported to the club this week with Kennedy.
“Obviously, coming off a long flight from Jordan and just happy to be here,” van Egmond said. “Felt very welcomed from the get-go. Super happy to be here and the training has been awesome.”
Van Egmond is rooming with Kennedy. She said the transition to Orlando has been easy thanks to Kennedy.
“Excited to play alongside her, not only for my country, but now for club,” van Egmond said.
This is van Egmond’s second stint in the NWSL, and she said the league is probably the best league in the world right now for women’s soccer. She previously played for the Seattle Reign and Chicago Red Stars before making a move to Germany.
“Just getting used to the conditions here,” she said. “It’s quite humid and warm and, you know, just adapting to that as quickly as I can.”
Camila makes progress
Brazilian midfielder Camila, who tore the ACL and MCL in her right knee last season, did not participate in the 11-versus -11 scrimmage during Thursday’s training session, but club officials confirmed she passed the ball around with teammates before the portion of training available to the media.
Camila is expected back in June.
“I’m super happy to see Camila and that she’s back on the field with and hopefully to see what she can do for us in the future, as well,” Marta said.