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Real Salt Lake hopes draft pick Enzo Martinez can blossom as a pro

Published January 12, 2012 3:30 pm

Soccer • "We loved him in college," says the team's GM.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Did Real Salt Lake find a nugget despite drafting late in the first round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft?

Maybe.

"Everyone feels good today," general manager Garth Lagerwey said. "The question is how well everyone feels in a month."

With the 17th overall pick, RSL selected midfielder Enzo Martinez from North Carolina as its first-round selection.

"Hopefully, I can be a player that works hard," a nervous but happy Martinez said. "I want that to be my greatest quality."

Martinez is a member of the Generation Adidas developmental program, so his salary won't count against the team's salary budget.

In the second round, RSL chose SMU defender Diogo de Almeida with the 24th pick, acquired in a trade with Chivas USA. Its final selection came later in the second round, when the team used the 36th pick on Sebastian Velasquez, a high-scoring midfielder from Spartanburg Methodist College.

The Montreal Impact, Major League Soccer's 19th and newest team, picked first. As expected, the Impact chose Andrew Wenger of Duke, also a Generation Adidas member. He was the winner of the 2011 Herman Trophy, which goes to the best player in college soccer.

Martinez, 21, known as an attacking midfielder, was expected to go higher in the draft. The 5-foot-7 junior for the 2011 NCAA champions was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but immigrated to Rock Hill, S.C., when he was 10 years old.

"He could contribute in spot-duty similar to Collen Warner in his first year, if he works hard and can earn it," Lagerwey said, referring to the midfielder whom RSL recently lost to Montreal in an expansion draft. "He's an RSL player; there's no other way to put it. We loved him in college."

Martinez keyed the Tar Heels' offense with nine goals and 10 assists last season, and 22 goals with 20 assists during his college career.

"I like to do things with the ball," said Martinez, who met with Lagerwey during the recent MLS Scouting Combine. "I absolutely loved [the meeting]. I'm happy to be going there."

Martinez and North Carolina reached the NCAA College Cup three times.

"I've been so blessed to win a national championship with my club, in high school and in college," he said. "Hopefully I can add another title to my résumé with a team who won the [MLS Cup] two years ago and is fighting for it every year."

De Almeida, a native of Piracicaba, Brazil, scored four goals as a senior for SMU in 2011. He started 20 games for the Mustangs and was named to the NSCAA Scholar-Athlete All-America First Team.

Velasquez, a 17-year-old freshman at Spartanburg Methodist College, is a former member of the U-15 United States boys' national team. He also exploded upon the junior college scene with 35 goals and 16 assists.

martyr@sltrib.com

Twitter: @rsltribune —

San Jose picks Utahn

Sandy's Jacob Hustedt was taken by the San Jose Earthquakes in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.

The Quakes used the 25th pick of the draft on the Jordan High School graduate, who was named All-Pac 12 Conference last fall after scoring six goals in his only season with the Washington Huskies. Hustedt was the Class 5A Most Valuable Player as a senior at Jordan in 2007 — the Beetdiggers won back-to-back state titles in 2005 and 2006 ­­— and played his first three collegiate seasons at Cal Poly, before transferring to Washington. —

RSL's new additions

Rd/Pick Pos Player From

1/17 MF Enzo Martinez North Carolina

2/24 D Diogo de Almeida SMU

2/36 MF Sebastian Velasquez Spartanburg Methodist College