Nowak: Martinez brings plenty of speed, upside to Union attack
The Union had been in contact with Club Deportivo Saprissa for the last six or seven months, trying to pry away 21-year-old striker Josué Martinez.
On Wednesday, it became official.
Martinez, a dynamic Costa Rican international, will not be a Young Designated Player, according to team manager Peter Nowak. But he will be a key part of the Union as they prepare to begin their third season in MLS.
“We believe he will develop in the right way,” Nowak said on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. “He will find himself comfortable with our team and our locker room. He will make our team better.”
For Saprissa, Martinez scored 18 goals in 43 appearances. In ‘10, he helped the Costa Rican side win the First Division title. Later in the season, his goal in the 87th minute against Seattle Sounders FC helped Saprissa to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
Martinez has also added two goals in 11 caps with the Costa Rican senior national team.
Personal accomplishments aside, Nowak simply believes that the addition of Martinez makes the club stronger.
“You cannot win a championship with 13 guys,” Nowak said. “You have to establish a culture that everyone is important on the field, not just the starting 11. This is another step in the right direction … it will make our quality better. I think he’s a good piece to the mix. At his young age, he has a lot to prove. We think we can help him with this.”
The Union technical staff was impressed with Martinez’s lightning-quick speed and versatility.
“When we discussed the transfer, we figured it was very important to get some speed,” Nowak said. "He has a different quality with his speed and can play as a central striker or on the wing."
The club's previous acquisition, Nizar Khalfan, is also known for his pace along the flanks.
Nowak made it clear that the Union are not done making moves to strengthen their roster.
"The only position we're not looking at is goalkeeper," he said. "The rest is up in the air. We'll strengthen every line possible."
With the 2012 regular season beginning March 12 at Portland, the Union are preparing for a long regular season and, if all goes according to plan, a deeper run in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Bringing in Martinez on a permanent transfer has to be considered a significant step in the right direction.
“We can stretch the backlines and we can use his speed as well,” Nowak said. “He’s very good in the air as well. He’s a very humble guy. He wants to learn and get better. He’s more passionate than anything.”