Talk to Enzo Martinez for even just five minutes and you’ll realize he is a guy who is genuine, down-to-earth, and who loves his job. Watch Enzo on the pitch and you’ll find it’s hard not to root for someone who is such a hard worker, whose energy brings his teammates up as well, and only knows how to play the game at 110%. “When I have that challenge in my life and I’m able to step up—I don’t care about the outcome, but I care about how I react to it,” explains Martinez. “I’m going to do what I always do in every situation—work really hard and the rest will take care of itself. If I don’t react that way that’s when I really feel like there’s something wrong.”
Colorado Rapids fans didn’t have a lot to cheer about week-in and week-out in 2018, but Martinez has quickly become a fan favorite regardless of how many minutes he has seen. The versatile midfielder came from the USL and impressed new Head Coach Anthony Hudson so much that he won a roster spot and saw action in 18 of the first 23 matches. “At the beginning of the year I was playing every game, starting every game, and it’s exactly what I came here for—fight for a spot,” he recently told Burgundy Wave.
However, Martinez saw his minutes decrease as the season wound down and the Rapids staff began slotting in younger players to season them a bit and see what they had moving forward.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had to deal with that a lot in my career. Obviously, the year’s been in two halves: one, I’m playing and starting every game, and then I’m starting/I’m not. I feel when I’ve played I’ve performed and done well for the team so that’s all I can do,” admitted Enzo, who saw the field just 4 times in the last 11 matches.n“For me personally, I adjust well to that because I only have one mentality and that’s to work hard, to start the day fresh. That doesn’t mean I don’t get down, or don’t feel like giving up…we all do. Having that thought in my head and seeing my response is what keeps me going.”
“For me, I’m happy,” Enzo explains. “I’m going to make sure what I can control I do it to the best I can. It might not be the best that day, but I’m going to try to do the best I can. Having that attitude has helped me throughout my life and I can’t change that. The second my mentality changes from that is the second I know there’s something wrong with that.”
It’s not to say the Rapids coaches have written off the USL veteran—just the contrary according to Martinez during the season finale 2-1 win against FC Dallas at home. He was encouraged by being told he was wanted here and to go and prove himself once again. And that just what he did. He provided a valuable spark to Colorado with the game-tying assist on Cole Bassett’s goal in his 30 minutes finishing out the match.
As far as 2019 is concerned, Martinez knows that nothing is guaranteed for him. “To be honest, that’s something at the end of the year we’ll sit down and they’ll let me know this is what we thought about you,” he says succinctly. The Rapids hold the cards, but if there’s ever a player to count on when a spark is needed, or a change of pace to the starting XI is required, Enzo Martinez has to be at the top of that list. “Right now, I have an option for next year, so as of right now I don’t know if I’m coming back or going somewhere else,” admits a calm Martinez. “My mentality is that I’m preparing myself if this team needs me back next year. I want to fight for a spot and be one of those guys. During the offseason I want to earn that.”
“Soccer is a lot like life, a lot of players who play have success because they put in a lot of work in the background that people don’t see,” says the young father and husband. “For next year, [I’ll] do everything I can, leave here on a good note, and if they want me back [I’ll] come here and push to be a starter.”
If nothing else, Enzo says he has learned much from this season’s trials and tribulations, which down the road will make him a better player wherever that may be. “I felt like I’ve grown a lot this year in the mental side of the game as well. The staff doesn’t allow you to take a play off—not a single play. That creates what’s necessary to get better because you’re thinking about every play, every touch, every pass. You actually have to make a conscious decision of what you’re doing. When you do that a lot, and throughout the year, you’re going to get better.”
“I’ve played this year in almost every position, so I’ve been able to learn the game as a whole. A lot of players think the game through their position, so I’ve been able to learn a lot about the game. I’m happy personally. Understanding what each situation calls for… that’s fun.”
He also has found his new home for his family, settling down in the northern suburb of Louisville tucked up against the foothills. “I love Colorado man,” Martinez says with a big grin on his face. “I love this city, I love this place, I love the fans and I hope to make it my home for a long time. In the game of soccer you move a lot, different teams, and when the ups and downs come you need family. And, as much as I love the city, they love it even more and that makes a huge difference.”
“We live in the area my daughter goes to school so every morning I get up, I get her ready, and then we either ride our bikes or we walk to school, I’ll drive her to school and then my soccer day starts. It’s good to have that balance.”
As far as continuing his Rapids career, it’s easy to tell Enzo is here for the long haul if possible. “We believe in what we’re building here. No one is satisfied with how the year went. That’s the reason we work as hard as we do because we know we have to make it up-we have to make it up to the fans.”