Martinez reunited with de los Cobos

Salvadoran played for new Fire head coach on national team

As Fire manager Carlos de los Cobos continues to familiarize himself
with his new squad, one player he won't need to study is Salvadoran
international Julio Martinez. With a resurgent performance by Los
Cuscatlecos during 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying both men raised their
profiles in CONCACAF - when the Mexican manager found his way to
Chicago, Martinez was not far behind.

Born in Coatepeque, El Salvador, Martinez came to the Fire on loan last
month from Club León of Mexico. The 24-year-old is part of a new
generation of young Salvadoran players making their way to the league,
looking to follow in the footsteps of previous countrymen, Raul Diaz
Arce and Ronald Cerritos. A lot of credit for the new generation of
Salvadorans venturing abroad goes to Carlos de los Cobos for the
revitalization of the country's national team.
Martinez is the first Salvadoran to sign with the Chicago Fire.

"The manager has given a lot to not only the national team but the
country as well," said Martinez. "Coming in with the mentality of doing
things right, he made a major impact on each player and supporter by
achieving the goals we set. I felt sad when he left the national team
but destiny eventually chose for us to be reunited in Chicago."

A right-sided attacking player, Martinez has a knack for scoring from
distance -- both during the run of play and in dead ball situations.
Perhaps his most stunning effort came in the 4-1 loss away to Mexico
last October during World Cup Qualifying. Down 3-0 in the 89th minute,
Martinez blasted a screaming free kick from 30 yards to the top left
post that evaded Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. The result
officially eliminated El Salvador from World Cup qualification, but it
was previous performances during the final round that showed the former
Central American power was back on the right track.

One of those performances was the early round home match against Mexico
last June. Having already taken a 2-2 home draw from the United States
in March, Los Cuscatlecos upset the other CONCACAF giants with Martinez
netting in the 12th minute of the 2-1 victory.

"Scoring against Mexico while representing my national team was very
gratifying," said Martinez. "The first results of the round gave us hope
that we might achieve qualification. Unfortunately we couldn't get the
points away from home but with our performances we signaled a change of
course in El Salvador that has resulted in more respect from the rest of
the region."

Continuously dangerous during the June encounter, that performance in
part helped spring Martinez to Mexico's Club Leon last June after
previously playing for Salvadoran clubs Isidro Metapan and Alianza.

"The first part of the season with Leon was tough because I arrived
injured. After recuperating and getting back to training, the manager
began to gain confidence in me and with that came my own confidence,
which was a major impact in returning to top level soccer."

As he settles into another new side, he's thankful for a familiar coach
and a welcoming squad of players.

"De los Cobos cares about each player's performance and he gives us
confidence. In turn, players pay him back with hard work and dedication.
With the team, we're adapting to each other and I'm adapting to the
group. I know the difficulty the club has had at returning to MLS Cup
and the goal for me is to help the team get back to the final and
hopefully a championship - we certainly have the talent for it."