Road to Vancouver: More to Brazil than Marta

By Paul Kennedy

Marta, whose magnificent performance powered Brazil past the USA Sunday at the Torneio Internacional da Brasilia, is one of the few constants on a national team in transition.

Marta, whose hat trick gave Brazil a 3-2 comeback win, is just one of four starters still around from the team that lost to the USA on penalty kicks in their memorable quarterfinal at the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany. Longtime teammates Rosana, who recently signed with the NWSL Houston Dash, and Formiga, now 36, and Maurine started against the USA.

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But there's been an injection of young talent -- Poliana, Tayla, Andressa Alves and Debinha are all 23 or younger -- into Brazil's starting lineup. Poliana and Andressa Alves will also move to the NWSL in 2015, joining Houston and Boston, respectively, from Sao Jose.

Luciana, who plays Brazilian champion Ferroviaria, was first called up to the national team as a backup keeper in 2009 but didn't get her first chance to start until the 2013 edition of the Brasilia tournament. At 27, she is now the No. 1 keeper.

Defender Bruna Benites, who captained Sao Jose to the women's Copa Libertadores title in 2014, played for Brazil at the 2012 Olympics, and midfielder Thaisa broke into the Brazil lineup a year ago like her Ferroviaria teammate, Luciana.

Brazil is coached by Vadao, who took the women's job in April. He came from men's club Ponte Preta, where he was on his fourth stint in a coaching career that has taken him to 16 clubs in Brazil and Japan. He has changed teams 26 times in a 34-year coaching career.

Vadao labeled the Torneio Internacional da Brasilia a great opportunity for his team to showcase women's soccer and show its the equal of the best teams in the world. He said many of his players had grown up playing on dirt fields and never played in a World Cup stadium.

The match against the USA on Sunday was Brazil's 21st of the year. The win improved its 2014 record to 11 wins, three losses and seven ties.

UPDATE FROM BRAZIL. Heavy rains left the Mane Garrincha Stadium flooded, forcing the postponement of Wednesday's USA-Argentina and Brazil-China doubleheader from Wednesday to Thursday.
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