Enzo Martinez sets sights on first-team action in 2013

Matt Montgomery

Enzo Martinez is a bit of a mystery. Brought into Real Salt Lake as a first-round draft pick in January, the 22-year-old midfielder is a clear talent, but he's stuck biding his time behind a core group of veteran midfielders.

Enzo Martinez is a bit of a mystery. Brought into Real Salt Lake as a first-round draft pick in January, the 22-year-old midfielder is a clear talent, but he's stuck biding his time behind a core group of veteran midfielders.

One of a slew of talented young midfielders at the club, Martinez, a member of the Generation Adidas program, seems to be taking it well, with an awareness of the talent from which he can learn.

"I'm enjoying it, playing with the best players in the league," Martinez says. His English is flawless, but he has a slight accent. It's undoubtedly a result of his growing up in Uruguay before emigrating to the United States as a 10-year-old. "It's exactly what I need for my first year. Obviously, I want to be playing, just like everyone here on this team wants to."

Once a club soccer teammate of Sebastian Velasquez in South Carolina, Martinez was selected by Real Salt Lake in the first round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft. Most were surprised that the University of North Carolina midfielder fallen to the number 17 pick, as he'd been touted to be selected much sooner.

Martinez, right-footed and with a keen eye for attack, has featured in various positions for Real Salt Lake's reserves. In the final MLS Reserve League match of the season, he started in the midfield but was moved into a defensive role in the 30th minute.

"To be honest, I'm not all the way sure," he says about why he's sometimes being played at right back. "But yeah, I've played defensive midfielder, attacking mid, out wide, right back. I think that the coaches see I have potential there as well - and for my first year, whatever the team needs at the moment, I'm just happy that I'm able to go in there and do well."

Despite not having yet played for the first-team in 2012, Martinez has his sights set on a more prominent role next season. "Next year, I want to be playing, I want to be able to lift a trophy at the end of the year with the team," he says. "That's obviously everyone's goal, you know, but personally, I just want to be playing, that's my biggest goal."

Clearly rated by the coaching staff, Martinez traveled with RSL for CONCACAF Champions League matches in Costa Rica and Panama. It's an opportunity he embraces, even when he wasn't a named substitute.

"I'm extremely happy I get to travel with the team for such an important tournament," he says. "If the team needs me, I'm right there. I feel lucky and blessed to be able to go to other countries, travel and be part of the group."

It's not the only thing bringing the 20-year-old some happiness. Martinez's fiancee recently gave birth to the couple's first child. When asked about it, the excitement and joy in his voice is obvious. "I couldn't ask for anything else," he says, grinning. "It's amazing being a father. It's not easy, but it's awesome."

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