The Chicago Fire Thursday announced the signing Salvadoran midfielder Julio Martinez, completing the package deal that started with the signing of coach Carlos de los Cobos earlier this month.
De los Cobos coached Martinez when both were with the El Salvador national team that advanced to the final stage of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region before being eliminated. When the Fire hired de los Cobos, it was expected Martinez would join him in Major League Soccer.
Martinez, 24, was acquired in a loan deal with Leon FC of Mexico's Primera A (second) Division.
Martinez played in 10 games for the Salvadoran team, scoring twice from his favored right wing position.
"I kind of thought Martinez was a guy that could fit in very well on the right side," said Fire technical director Frank Klopas. "He's very skillful, very fast, and works both ways with the ball.
"Obviously, when we hired Carlos as coach, who happened to know him, we talked to him and compared notes," Klopas said. "Carlos felt that he is a guy that could fit in very well with the way we want to play. So I pushed full steam ahead to make it happen."
Martinez, a native of Coatepeque, El Salvador, started his pro career playing for Once Lobos of El Salvador in 2003, and after one season was transferred to Isidro Metapan. Martinez played with Metapan for six years, helping it win three tournaments and reaching the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League.
Martinez played seven games with Leon and scored three times.
Klopas said he was not concerned about Martinez's adjustment to the United States.
"We want to bring in guys who have been under pressure and proven," Klopas said. "Everybody looks outside the league and the draft to bring in guys that are going to make a difference. This makes sense with the way we want to play, especially when you have a coach he has played for."
Kent McDill is a contributor to MLSnet.com.