One of the revelations of the 2016 MLS season so far has been Real Salt Lake forward Juan Manuel Martinez, also known by his nickname "el Burrito" (The Little Donkey).
After joining RSL midseason last year – when, let's be honest, he never appeared quite match fit –nbsp;he's brought it for real this campaign with two goals and two assists in seven starts. For our money, Burrito has been the creative centerpiece of the RSL attack and the main catalyst for RSL's unexpected rise to the top of the MLS standings.
Now that the former Argentine international is making a name for himself here in MLS, we're getting the question more frequently: Where'd the nickname "el Burrito" come from?
The short answer is that it was bestowed upon Martinez when he was a kid, because of his resemblance to former World Cup star Ariel Ortega, who was also nicknamed "el Burrito."
"It comes from a teammate when I was playing in the youth team [at Velez Sarsfield]," Martinez told MLSsoccer.com ahead of RSL's visit to rivals Colorado Rapids on Saturday (9PM ET, streamed on MLS LIVE).
"The nickname came from there and stayed," he continued. "So when I start at Velez Sarsfield [first team], everybody already know: This guy is Burrito. And they think, 'This guy maybe play good because the nickname is from Ariel, a good player.'"
Ortega scored goals for fun throughout the '90s and '00s, most famously for River Plate, and was on Argentina's World Cup team at the 1994, 1998, and 2002 tournaments. He finished his club career with more than 100 goals, and if they had kept records of assists in his time, his stats would be even more impressive.
It's easy to see the comparison between the two Burritos (Burritoes?) – this year, Martinez has showed slick creativity and skill on the ball, and, like his (nick-)namesake, he's capable of scoring and creating goals for others.
"[Ortega] was an amazing player," RSL's Burrito said. "He played for the national team. He played in the World Cup. It’s an honor to have that nickname."