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Colorado Rapids midfielder Enzo Martínez could prove to be a steal

Feb 27, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, USA; Colorado Rapids midfielder Enzo Martinez (90) dribbles the ball away from Toronto FC midfielder Victor Vazquez (7) in the second half of their CONCACAF Champions League game at BMO Field. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

DENVER – The Colorado Rapids have been known for their fair share of bad signings over the course of the club’s history (Edu, Gaby Torres, Juan Ramírez anyone?). But leading into this weekend’s season opener against the New England Revolution, the team could hold claim to one of the sneaky good roster moves of Major League Soccer’s offseason.

With the signing of 27-year-old Enzo Martínez from United Soccer League affiliate Charlotte Independence, the Rapids seem to have found an attacking talent the team sorely needs – at a bargain.

The MLS Players Union has yet to release salary info for this season, but here’s what we do know: In exchange for Martínez’ MLS rights, Colorado sent a fourth-round selection in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft to Real Salt Lake, a good deal considering Martinez was once a 17th overall pick in the 2012 draft.

The last time he was on the books in MLS, it was for an entry-level salary of $65,000. The kind of player the Rapids are getting in return seems well worth the investment.

“Enzo has really stood out for us this preseason. 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,”said Pádraig Smith, Rapids vice president and general manager.

Over the past two years and three seasons in Charlotte, Martínez produced 25 total goals. He continued to impress in preseason, enough for newly-minted Rapids manager Anthony Hudson to ask him to be part of the program he’s building in Colorado.

Success in the second-tier USL doesn’t necessarily translate to MLS success, but Martínez impressed in his first pair of starts in the Rapids’ CONCACAF Champions League series against reigning MLS Champion Toronto FC. The Uruguayan created chances, threaded passes and even went toe-to-toe with Sebastian Giovinco on several occasions in the series.

Can his upward rise continue?

The true value of this move will, of course, be measured in goals. But if self-confidence is any indicator, Colorado has struck gold.

“I think every player in the world believes in themselves. If they don’t, there’s something wrong with them,” Martínez told reporters last month. “Learning early on, there are things I can control and things I can’t. The mindset, for me, was coming in here and doing everything I can and the rest would take care of itself.”

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