Sunday, August 10, 2008

Best of the best

Someone told me that they considered Marta to be "the best women's soccer player ever". I disagree, but not because I think it's impossible for her to one day make a solid claim to that title.

For me, Michelle Akers still occupies that "best ever" spot. Part of the reason why is that Akers was a gamer. She was a competitor who could raise her game when it was most needed. She was skilled, strong and tough.

Marta is a different sort of player, quick and tricky on the ball. Technically, she may be the best the women's game has ever seen.

Thing is, I've always thought that results matter, that game pressure reveals truth - and Marta has yet to prove she has the heart of the champion.

That's why these Olympics are especially important for Marta. She can fill out that blank spot on her resume and really put her team on the map. That's important, given that her home country tends to overlook women's soccer.


Tony in Quakeland said...

100% that it is Akers. The only reason there is a question is that the bulk of her career was before the Women's game caught media attention. Her ability to assume different roles as she got older is one aspect of her career that I doubt Marta will equal. (Even Mia Hamm didn't, although she left the game younger.)

Mon-sewer Paul Regret said...

I always hesitate to comment on a person's psychological makeup. I don't know them personally, I just know their play on the field. If you have two players of equal (if different) ability, and one plays in an environment that is relatively encouraging (say, women's soccer in the U.S.) and one plays in an environment that is less encouraging (say, Brazil, where they overlook the women's game), then it is entirely possible, even likely, that the first player will be on more championship squads than the second. The reason won't be that the first player has "the heart of a champion" while the second does not ... the reason will be that the supporting cast of the second player isn't up to the standards of the first player's support. In baseball terms, the second player's name is Ernie Banks.

A.C. said...

Marta's play on the field is exactly what I'm commenting on. She's brilliant in many ways, but crunch time matters, whether or not outside society is supportive. The internal motivation to be a champion is what ultimately drives almost all competitors.

ghostwriter said...

Can't argue with the Akers pick.

But Brigid Prinz deserves to be in the discussion. She powerful in the air, fast and technically capable with the ball at her feet, and has that killer mentality of the born scorer (leading all time WC goals); she's a winner, shines in the big games, and plays both ways.

Right now, if we were picking teams, she'd be my #1 pick on the old (boxing) cliche that a good big man (woman) will beat a good small one all the time.

A.C. said...

Prinz is why I ranked Germany #1 at these Olympics, though they haven't won gold in the past either.

Anonymous said...

Marta is the best player ever. She plays with skill that no woman before has ever managed, and she is only 22 years old. I really can't fault her for not winning anything. The brazilian team as a whole hasn't learned how to come up winners yet.

ghostwriter said...

The Brazilian Team as a whole did not semi-flub a PK to tie the WC Championship match; Marta did, hitting a poorly struck weak shot within arms length of the German keeper. Great players play great in big games.

At only 22, as AC says, she may grow into the role as best ever, but she isn't there yet.

Anonymous said...

Akers played a long time and has quite a CV we can study, though she played in a different era.

Comparing her to Marta is like comparing George Best to Christiano Ronaldo (Best by a long shot, by the way) .

Wait until Mata retires. Then you can make more logical comparisons, if at all.