The Union have struck quickly in an attempt to improve their team during this short Major League Soccer off-season and there’s no better way to do this than by acquiring speed.
Specifically we’re talking about Josue Martinez, the Costa Rican forward who was acquired Wednesday by international transfer.
The 5-foot-10 Martinez turns 22 in March. According to team manager Peter Nowak, Martinez has many strong traits beginning with his wheels.
“He gives us a fast player who can stretch the back line and use his speed,” Nowak said in a conference call with reporters. “Plus he has scored a couple of goals with his head and he is very good in the air as well.”
Fast on land, strong in the air, sounds like the type of combination the Union offense, that scored 44 goals in 34 games, could use.
Shortly after the Union’s season ended with the 3-1 two-game aggregate goal loss to the Houston Dynamo in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Nowak vowed that he wanted to get stronger at all positions, specifically forward.
He reiterated this again on Thursday, suggesting that all positions but goalkeeper could see potential upgrades.
The Union have five players who have been invited to next week’s U-23 camp in Florida. The Olympic team is comprised of this squad and no MLS team has more participants than the Union. Those invited are Freddy Adu, Zac MacMath, Amobi Okugo, Jack McInerney and Sheanon Williams.
The Union would be missing a few these players for a stretch if they make the team and compete in the Olympics.
So Nowak realizes that the team needs depth.
“You can’t win with 13 guys,” he said in a frequent statement.
Martinez brings the depth, but Nowak said that it’s only the beginning. He truly wants to fortify the midfield, especially after losing Justin Mapp to Montreal in the expansion draft.
And more importantly, Nowak said a key goal will be to make as many moves as possible before the team begins camp in late January, so to have all the pieces working together from the beginning.
While there may be additions once the season starts, the more the team is put together before camp, the better chance there is of having continuity.
So the offseason, while not very long, could continue to be busy for the Union.
Bringing in new players doesn’t guarantee improvement, but the Union feel a need to add talent.
Martinez was the first step. A few more are expected to follow.