High School Sports

Former Northwestern Trojan Enzo Martinez heads back to the big leagues

Enzo Martinez begins the 2018 pro soccer season with a new club, and a new hairstyle.
Enzo Martinez begins the 2018 pro soccer season with a new club, and a new hairstyle.

Enzo Martinez is getting another crack at Major League Soccer.

The former Northwestern Trojan was a United Soccer League MVP finalist each of the last two seasons with the Charlotte Independence. On Monday, the club announced that its parent MLS team, the Colorado Rapids, signed Martinez.

“Enzo has really stood out for us this preseason,” said Rapids general manager, Pádraig Smith. “He’s been with us from the first day of training camp and has impressed everyone with his quality and work ethic. His résumé at the USL level speaks for itself and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do in Major League Soccer.”

After starring at the University of North Carolina, Martinez was drafted by MLS side Real Salt Lake in 2012. But he didn’t make a single appearance in two years before leaving the club. The Uruguayan joined the Independence in 2015 and excelled, amassing 28 goals scored in 83 games. Martinez made Independence franchise history marking the club’s second hat trick this past season in a 3-1 win over eventual USL Champions, Louisville City FC. He departs the club as its all-time leader in goals scored.

“Charlotte has made me the man and player that I am, today,” said Martinez. “They helped me grow, helped me understand the game at a level, when I was younger, I didn't understand. I feel like I’m ready for this new opportunity.”

The Independence still employ Alex Martinez, Enzo’s younger brother and a stalwart member of the squad the last few years. But Alex will have to ride to training by himself now that Enzo has returned to the MLS ranks.

“We’re all excited and happy for him,” said Independence head coach Mike Jeffries. “He’s a player who has worked extraordinarily hard and been successful the last several years in the USL. He earned the opportunity and deserves it. Most importantly, I think he has the heart, desire and skill-set to contribute to a MLS team.”