When you think of Philadelphia the terms gritty, hardworking and dependable are always at the top of the list. While Jose Martinez has only been on the pitch for Philadelphia Union for only 162 minutes this season, those same words resemble his style of play at the No. 6 spot.
“One of the favorite qualities that he has is that he’s always around the ball and always involved in any confrontation because he is so competitive and wants to win,” Head Coach Jim Curtin said during his media availability on Sunday. “I think it's something that all of our players have really grown to respect with Jose. He empties his tank not only in the games but every training session and is a good example for how we want to play the game.”
While Martinez is always around the ball one the key characteristics that caught the technical staff’s eye during their scouting was his ball-winning ability. Going full speed nearly every time Brujo sees the ball has seen the midfielder end up in the referee’s book in each of his starts. While Curtin loves the aggression, the staff has been trying to teach the newcomer how to pick which moments require an aggressive tackle. One such teaching moment came against New York City FC in the 34th minute.
“I never want to take aggression away from a player,” Curtin said. “Maybe our league is refereed differently than the Venezuelan league so there still is an adjustment and adapting period where maybe tackles that he’s used to making in that league could maybe warrant a yellow card here so there is an adjustment period that is going on with Jose. We have to be smart now about finding little ways like with the Moralez yellow card that he takes, he has Moralez in a good spot. He’s facing away from our goal and rather than getting into a little hand-to-hand stuff with him and eventually kicking him, just let that go and let him play backwards and you’ve done your job.”
Despite the two yellow cards, Martinez is quickly becoming a fan favorite especially after the countless kit swaps during the nationally televised match against LAFC. One under looked spot on the field for Martinez is his offense. Against NYC he competed 70% of his passes and in the fast-paced LAFC match he competed 86%. That dependability makes “El Brujo” even more important to the team’s style of play.
“What maybe gets missed is how great he passes the ball too with the crispness passes and the weight is always right with it being too far in front or behind. He’s really improved and getting used to our principles that we want to implement. We have to keep him on the good size of that razor’s edge and not have any red cards coming.”
Philadelphia Union continues its participation in the MLS is Back Tournament on Tuesday, July 14. Kick off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. ET on TUDN and will be streamed on Twitter. Following the match, fans can catch a special postgame show presented by Premier Orthopaedics on the Union’s social channel and on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.