PHILADELPHIA – Back in July, around the same time striker Carlos Ruiz left town, the Philadelphia Union began serious talks with Costa Rican side Club Deportivo Saprissa to bring in another international striker.
The deal did not come to fruition then for a variety of reasons. But five months later, the Union were able to get their man, acquiring Josué Martínez from Saprissa on Wednesday in what Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak called a permanent transfer.
“In the past couple of weeks, the whole thing sped up,” Nowak said on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. “We are very happy and want to thank the guys at Saprissa.”
Nowak said the club likes Martínez because he’s a young player but also one that carries with him a lot of experience. The 21-year-old striker starred at the 2009 Under-20 FIFA World Cup before making 11 appearances on the full Costa Rican national team. Since 2009, he’s scored 18 goals in 43 appearances at the club level.
“There are a lot of expectations for him – and for us as well,” Nowak said. “Him being very young, he still has a lot of things to prove, and we believe we can help him.”
Nowak called Martínez a “very humble guy” who can speak English and is eager to learn in a league he’s been following for many years. The Costa Rican’s blazing speed will be an immediate weapon for the Union, who lost a little bit in that department when winger Justin Mapp was plucked from them by the Montreal Impact.
“When we discussed the transfer, we figured it was very important to get some speed,” Nowak said. “We all agree, as a technical staff, this quality is going to be a very important factor to our game.”
Because of his quickness, Martínez – who Nowak said is not a Young Designated Player – could be used as a central striker or even on the wing. Either way, the Union hope the acquisition will give the club another credible scoring threat up front.
Philadelphia already boast some talented young strikers in Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney, but it’s been no secret that Sébastien Le Toux has carried most of the offensive load over the past two seasons.
“I’m sure he’s going to fit in very well,” Nowak said of Martínez. “He’s got a different quality that we might need. We can mix it up. Him being unpredictable with his skill set will be a very important factor to our game as well.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.