This soccer-mad L.A. Latina has attended seven World Cups. Qatar will make it eight when play begins with the U.S. on Thursday.
Now her team is waiting to learn whether its star forward, Marta (Marta Marquez Arce), will be able to go through with the operation she was supposed to have on April 1.
That is no surprise: the 24-year-old forward is already a veteran of the U.S. women’s team. She made her debut in the 2015 Women’s World Cup after making the move from Ecuador to join the U.S. team in 2013. She scored in her first game. She scored again, in the third minute of injury time in the team’s second and only game of the preliminary round in the 2015 World Cup.
“She’s been very professional. She’s focused only on the task at hand,” head coach Jill Ellis said. “I think when you have a player like that, you have a chance to be able to build an entire program in a short period of time.”
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That process is already underway. The U.S. is 2-0 in the Group E match against Spain on Thursday, with the USA holding a 2-0 lead after scoring each of the first two goals. It’s a mark it can’t afford to lose against a team like Spain, which will be without goalkeeper Imanol Agirretxe due to a hamstring injury.
Ellis said Marta is “100 percent physically ready” to play. But the coach said her medical condition might not be her biggest challenge in the World Cup.
“She’s a very intense player, so it might be more of an emotional challenge for her if she doesn’t play well,” Ellis said. “But I know the players will step up. As much as we prepare for the game, we will still be thinking about the entire World Cup. But I think we’ll be in a good position going into it.”
Marta has started four of the USA’s six games in this World Cup. She has scored two goals and assisted on one in