One of the most dramatic trades in recent league history sent RSL’s all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio to D.C. United last month, and on Thursday RSL confirmed a move to replace him.
Juan Manuel "El Burrito" Martinez, 29, comes to MLS after playing 13 seasons in his native Argentina and Brazil. He has signed a Designated Player contract; RSL opened up a DP slot on its roster by using Targeted Allocation Money to buy down the salary-budget charge of midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
"Martinez is a very experienced player,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said in a club statement. “He's played in several high-level situations, and has enjoyed success at each and every stop. We believe he will bring a style of soccer that we want for our club and our fans.”
Martinez started his pro career at Velez Sarsfield in 2003, which won Clausura titles in 2005 and 2009. He scored 26 goals in 153 appearances for Velez, which loaned him out several times. During the 2010 Apertura season he scored 10 goals in 19 games and was named Argentina’s co-Footballer of the Year as the best Argentine not playing abroad. (Lionel Messi was the co-winner of the award.)
He earned his only four caps for Argentina in 2011, and the following season moved to Corinthians. He didn’t feature regularly for the Brazilian club, and after scoring two goals in 18 games he moved to Boca in 2013. Injuries limited his playing time -- he scored 10 goals in 58 appearances -- and the arrival of Carlos Tevez last month prompted him to request his release.
“Juan is a player with great quality that can add a new dynamic to our attack while fitting in with our style of keeping possession with the ball on the ground,” said RSL technical director Craig Waibel. “A player with his pedigree and background will be a good addition to our locker room and our play on the field.”
Martinez will be added to the roster once his International Transfer Certificate is processed and his P-1 visa issued.