Charlotte (NC) — On Thursday, the Charlotte Independence professional soccer team announced two-time USL Championship MVP Finalist Enzo Martinez has signed for the 2019 season, pending league and federation approval.
“This is my home,” said Martinez. “I'm happy to be back and be able to wear that jersey again this year. I'm bringing the same mentality as I did when I first came here. I want to do everything I can for this club. I want to win, I want people to enjoy our games, people to cheer for us and leave knowing that their players are representing them well.”
Martinez, 28, spent last season with the Colorado Rapids of MLS appearing in CONCACAF Champions League and 22 regular-season matches. His second stint in MLS came on the back of consecutive USL Best XI selections and a 2017 USL Golden Boot runner up campaign in which he scored 16 goals in 32 games. Martinez helped power the Independence to the franchise’s first two playoff seasons and returns as the club’s second all-time leading goal scorer.
“Bringing Enzo back home was our top offseason priority,” said Independence General Manager Mike Jeffries. “Not only are we returning a two-time USL MVP candidate and a top USL scorer, but a great person and leader. Enzo is part of the heart and soul of the Independence – his passion on the field amplifies his teammates’ play and his belief in building the success of the Independence is unparalleled.”
A homecoming for the Rock Hill, South Carolina native, Martinez is a proud alumni of Discoveries SC and Northwestern High School, where he scored 182 goals and won three state titles in his four years as a student. He spearheaded UNC-Chapel Hill men’s soccer 2011 NCAA National Championship and would later be taken 17th overall in the MLS SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake. Martinez first signed with the Independence for the club’s inaugural season in 2015.
“The club is going through the process of building something people are proud of and I want to be a part of that,” said Martinez. “In 10 years, when I come to the stadium with my kids, and there are 20,000 people and there's a great soccer atmosphere and I'm sitting there enjoying the game, want to say to myself, 'I played a little part of it.' It's exciting for anyone to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Martinez becomes the sixth player under contract for the 2019 season, joining new Head Coach Jim McGuinness’ returning core of midfielder Alex Martinez, defender Joel Johnson, midfielder Kevan George, goalkeeper Brandon Miller and midfielder Jake Areman. The Independence announced the full 2019 USL Championship schedule on Wednesday.
“Whether it was Mike [Jeffries] or Jim [McGuinness] or whoever is coaching us, I have to prove to him just like I would've proved to Mike [Jeffries] and anyone else that I'm good enough to be a part of this team,” said Martinez. “For me, it's fun for me to work with new people and new coaches and get to learn different styles. You get so much out of it and it's a challenge for yourself.”
The Independence will return to USL Championship action next spring at the Sportsplex at Matthews. For more information on 2019 Season Memberships, please visit charlotteindependence.com or call the Independence front office at 704-206-1515.