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Rapids sign Enzo Martinez

The Charlotte Independence midfielder had an all-star year in 2017, leading to his addition to the MLS side.

John Babiak, @Photog_JohnB

Enzo Martinez is now a Colorado Rapid.

Martinez, a standout for Charlotte Independence over the past two seasons, was signed to a one-year contract, with a club option for a second, according to a Colorado Rapids press release.

Enzo was a first-round selection in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, going 17th overall to Real Salt Lake. Since then, he has spent time with NASL’s Carolina Railhawks and USL’s Charlotte Independence. In 2016 and 2017, Martinez was a finalist for USL MVP. His 2017 campaign was particularly impressive, as he bagged 16 goals and 5 assists while leading Charlotte to a 13-9-10 (WTL) record and a playoff spot.

Earlier this month, Martinez joined the Rapids in their training camp at Casa Grande, Arizona. He also took part in several of the team’s preseason matches, including the final two tuneup matches against Sporting AZ and Phoenix Rising FC.

For more details on Martinez, check out our coverage from the Rapids preseason training camp in Arizona.

Because he was drafted in 2012 by Real Salt Lake, RSL held Martinez’ MLS rights. As such, the Rapids had to send a fourth-round selection in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft to Real Salt Lake in return for the player’s rights.

Enzo joins a growing list of USL and NASL players that have made the leap to MLS, and many of those players have become MLS success stories. Kevin Molino found great success with Orlando City SC and became their midfield metronome in their first year as an MLS expansion side. The same can be said for Christian Ramirez, who played for Minnesota United when they were in NASL, and in his first year in MLS, hammered home 14 goals for the Loons. And after a standout US Open Cup and USL performance with FC Cincinnati, Atlanta United signed goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrand to their club for the upcoming 2018 season.

While a solid track record of performance in the second division is no guarantee of MLS success, the lower leagues can often serve as an incubator for soccer talent that just needs a little more time to reach its potential. The pace of the MLS game is quicker, the players are faster and more technical, and the season is longer. But for fans and staff of the Colorado Rapids, there are high hopes that Enzo Martinez will continue to be the same impact player in MLS that he was with Charlotte.