Four-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Marta, of Brazil, is set to join the Atlanta Beat and provide a big jolt of excitement to the Georgia-based Women’s Professional Soccer expansion team.
Following the surprise announcement of the discontinuation of the Los Angeles Sol franchise, the WPS announced that the league will hold a dispersal draft on Feb. 4 with the eight franchises selecting players from the Sol roster.
The first three picks are held by the Atlanta Beat, Philadelphia Independence, and FC Gold Pride (Bay Area). The first two are expansion teams.
Barring a surprise trade, Marta is expected to be selected and retained by the Atlanta Beat.
The 23-year-old forward led the WPS in goals with 10, and is expected to anchor Brazil at next year's World Cup in Germany. She is under a multi-year contract with the WPS and is currently playing on loan with the club Santos in Brazil.
With the Atlanta Beat, Marta will be joined by an impressive array of world class players including Japanese star Mami Yamaguchi, who won the 2007 Herman Trophy at Florida State, and Switzerland's Ramona Bachmann, considered the top teenage player in the world. Add to that list American star midfielder Tobin Heath (North Carolina Tarheels), who was the top pick in the WPS annual draft held earlier this month.
Atlanta has two more picks in the second and third rounds of the dispersal draft. If they continue their good fortune, they could also get their hands on one of the Danish duo, Julie Rydahl Bukh or Cathrine Paaske-Sorenson, or select the talented Czech Pavlina Scasna.
The Atlanta Beat are set to construct a $16.5 million, 8,300-seat soccer stadium in Kennesaw, Ga. that will reportedly be the only women’s soccer-specific stadium of its kind in the world. The stadium is set for completion in Spring 2010 and in time for the kickoff of their inaugural season and first home game scheduled on Sunday, May 29 of this year.
The stadium construction designs display images of the stadium stands filled with people and featuring large banners with the Atlanta Beat logo and big words in capital letters that read: “BEST IN THE WORLD.”
With Marta and a supporting cast of world class players, that bold statement is not far-fetched or presumptuous at all.
On that historic Sunday, May 29, when Marta and the rest of the Atlanta Beat players jump on their home field for their opening day match, the date could mark the beginning of a new era of a dominating women's soccer club that could, indeed, become the “BEST IN THE WORLD.”