SAN JOSE, Calif. – When it comes to Honduran newcomers on the San Jose Earthquakes’ roster, midfielder Wálter “Pery” Martínez is going to find the bar set pretty high.
Countrymen Víctor Bernárdez and Marvin Chávez were added to the Quakes’ mix last winter, and each had a profound effect on San Jose’s run to the Supporters’ Shield, the club’s first piece of hardware since being re-founded as an expansion side in 2008.
Now Martínez – a 2010 World Cup veteran signed last week by the Quakes – might be asked to make a similar instant impact for a San Jose team that could use an offensive boost as several key attackers recover from injury.
With left back Justin Morrow pressed into duty for the US national team this weekend, Yallop may slide veteran Ramiro Corrales back from the midfield spot the captain has occupied for San Jose’s first three matches. That would leave an opening in the Quakes’ lineup against Seattle on Saturday (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online), with second-year winger Sam Garza or Martínez the most likely candidates for elevation.
“[Martínez will] probably get some time, whether it’s a start or not,” Quakes coach Frank Yallop said this week. “Having Wálter around is great. It might take him a little bit of time, but who knows on Saturday? I’ve got to decide what’s going to win us the game.”
Coming off a franchise-record 72 goals last season, the Quakes have three in as many matches this year, and that includes a penalty kick that came gift-wrapped by New York defender Roy Miller. Martínez’s high-octane style could help San Jose ride things out until the likes of Chávez, Steven Beitashour, Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart are back.
“I’m fast and quick,” Martínez said through a translator. “I want to take on defenders, attack them. Defenders feel uncomfortable when you do that to them, so hopefully that helps the team and I can do whatever I can to contribute.”
Martínez had trials with Colorado and D.C. United earlier this year, but wound up at the MLS club that was his best match. The 30-year-old – whose birthday comes next week – is from the same city as Bernárdez and the same neighborhood as Chávez, who was a teammate of Martínez’s at Honduran clubs Victoria and Marathón. The idea of joining fellow Honduran internationals was a strong lure for Martínez, who most recently played for Chongqing in China.
“It’s very important for me to be somewhere [with] countrymen,” Martínez said. “I played in China and Spain and didn’t have any other people from Honduras there. Now I not only have two ... we’ve known each other all our lives. It’s very important to be personally. It will make a big difference in my adjustment to the team.”