Alex and Enzo Martinez return to Rock Hill, on Friday night to play competitive soccer in their hometown when their Charlotte Independence side hosts Richmond Kickers in a USL match at Winthrop’s Eagle Field.
The Martinezes starred at Northwestern and for Discoveries Soccer Club, but neither has played a competitive match in Rock Hill in at least four years. The pair signed with the Independence earlier this year after stints in Major League Soccer didn’t pan out.
Friday’s match is being played as part of The Carolinas’ Kickin It Challenge, a local club soccer tournament and auction that raises funds and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The tournament is sponsored by Discoveries, the club in which the Martinez brothers began their careers. The Independence at halftime will present a $7,500 check donation to the Kickin It Challenge.
“It should be fun, it’s always interesting for us when we move fields and play somewhere new,” said Independence coach Mike Jeffries. “We’re looking forward to the atmosphere in South Carolina and getting some of our loyal fans out as well as some new fans out to the game. It should be a fun night.”
Charlotte has had a tough start to the season, facing three of the top four Eastern Conference teams in its first five matches. But the first-year Independence finally got into the win column last week, beating Louisville City FC 1-0. Enzo Martinez came off the bench in the 64th minute and provided an instant impact, lifting a cross on to the head of Patrick Slogic, who made no mistake to nod in the only goal of the game.
“We’ve worked hard to kind of get things going in the right direction and for us to just compete on a night and find a way to win was a huge confidence builder,” said Jeffries. “Obviously we made a few changes in the lineup and so there’s a little bit of trying to piece things together and be a little sharper from the beginning of the game. But as a whole we felt good about the performance and hope to carry it into the game with Richmond on Friday.”
Tickets are on sale now at charlotteindependence.com/tickets/single-game-tickets and also will be available for purchase at the box office on match day. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.