Former Northwestern High School soccer standout Alex Martinez scored his first professional goal Wednesday night during Sporting Kansas Citys 2-0 U.S. Open Cup win over Minnesota United.
Soony Saads finish in the 76th minute put Sporting in front, and Martinezs goal iced the contest in the 87th minute. Antonio Dovale cut open the Minnesota defense with a nice through-ball to Sal Zizzo. He drove into the box, had his shot blocked, gathered himself and then teed up a waiting Martinez to drive a low ball into the right corner for a 2-0 lead.
First, I want to thank God, like I always do, said Martinez, still on the field, speaking to a reporter from his teams web site. But I felt good. I think Ive gotten used to coming in with injuries so far. Getting into the game is the most important thing, and obviously Sal did amazing to give me the ball and I just tapped it in.
Martinez, Sportings third-round pick during the 2014 draft, told the Kansas City Star afterward, Its just an amazing feeling to put your first goal away and help the team win and advance to the next round. I knew eventually it would come. I was happy that it came tonight and finally showed up after being so close a couple times.
Martinezs brother, Enzo, didnt make a single appearance in two years for MLS side Real Salt Lake, but Alex appears to have landed in Kansas City at just the right moment. The World Cup took Sporting winger Graham Zusi to Brazil for two weeks at least, and several other injuries and the sale of a player to Portugal have left the teams midfield slightly barren. Martinez has seized on the opportunity, making 10 appearances, including three starts. His appearance Wednesday night came as a second half substitute after starter Victor Munoz left with an injury.
Martinezs impact is starting to gain notice. Kansas City Stars Charles Gooch noted in his postgame observations Wednesday night that Martinez was his Man of the Match. Gooch wrote, Martinez was very useful in restricting space for Minnesotas midfield to operate and put himself in great position to score the second goal.
Sporting Kansas City will face Portland in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup on June 24.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T