The Union unveiled their first new signing of the offseason on Monday, announcing the arrival of Venezuelan midfielder José Andrés Martínez.
A 25-year-old from Venezuelan club Zulia FC, Martínez is expected to bring versatility and defensive bite. He projects to fit at either the base of the Union’s four-man diamond midfield or one of the central positions.
“He is an up-and-coming player whose tenacity and athleticism will bolster our midfield going forward,” Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement.
A source with knowledge of the deal told The Inquirer that the Union paid a $325,000 transfer fee to acquire Martinez. The Union’s official announcement of the signing noted that a transfer fee was paid, but as with most deals around Major League Soccer, the sum wasn’t published.
Martínez signed a two-year contract with a team option for a third.
He stands 5-foot-9, weighs 152 pounds, and is nicknamed “El Brujo” — “the Wizard” in Spanish. Martínez played 38 times for Zulia in 2019, recording 4 assists, 1 goal, and 20 yellow cards.
Eight of his appearances came in the Copa Sudamericana, the second-tier South American club tournament (akin to UEFA’s Europa League). Zulia reached the quarterfinals this year, the deepest-ever run in the tournament by a Venezuelan team.
Martínez earned a call-up from Venezuela’s national team in September, though he didn’t play. He did, however, spend time with some players who know MLS: Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino; former Columbus Crew midfielder Bernardo Añor; and former Union forward Fernando Aristeguieta, who is now with Mexican club Morelia.
Here’s a highlights compilation that a training company Martínez works with put together: