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Brazilian legend Marta named a finalist for Best FIFA Women’s Player

Orlando player Marta (middle) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Washington Spirit at the Orlando Pride NWSL soccer game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, July 7, 2018. Orlando won the game 2-1. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

For Brazilian legend Marta, the 2018 season with the Orlando Pride hasn’t gone as planned.

But she still has a chance to reap the rewards of a stellar 2017 campaign.

Marta on Monday was named one of three finalists for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2018 award. The award is given for play from Aug. 7, 2017, through May 24, 2018, so Marta’s 13-goal season with the Pride last year and her successful run as captain of the Brazilian women’s nation team en route to a 2018 Copa América Femenina title are being taken into account.

The other two finalists are German women’s national team captain Dzsenifer Marozsan and Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg (31 goals in 20 appearances for French top division side Olympique Lyonnais).

If Marta wins – the winner will be named on Sept. 24 during a ceremony in London – it will be her sixth FIFA Player of the Year award, which would give her the most all-time, male or female.

She’s not thinking of the historical implications yet, she said. 

“It’s great,” Marta said through a translator. “I’m really happy for it. I’m thankful, as well. It’s great feedback from the last season. It’s great to see that feedback for everything I put in. Even though it’s an individual award, I also share that with my teammates because I feel like they help me through it. I couldn’t get that without them.”

Marta led the NWSL in goals last season and was third in the league with six assists.

The 2018 campaign has been a rough one for Marta and the Pride, who were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 25. Marta, who recently suffered a small hamstring strain, has four goals and four assists in 17 appearances (15 starts) this season for the Pride.

Still, Marta sees the positive impact being named a finalist can have for the Pride going forward.

“It’s a positive thing,” Marta said about potentially winning the award. “We didn’t do really well this season. We did better last season. But I think it’s good motivation to see we can do way more than we did.”

To get to the final three, Marta first went through a process that included votes from fans, journalists and national team coaches and captains — the same pool of votes will decide the winner. The final three was narrowed down from a list of 10 players, which was released in July.

“I just want to thank them, thank everyone, all the fans, for the support, always, and for taking that time to just go and vote for me,” Marta said. “It’s just awesome to see that feedback and to see them supporting you every time, so just thank you for everything and for the support.”

After her translator finished, Marta threw her hands into the air and, in English, shouted, “Thank you!”

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