Sporting KC midfielder Alex Martinez impresses in MLS debut

Two weeks ago, Alex Martinez was fighting for a roster spot. The 2014 MLS SuperDraft third round pick had featured in seven MLS preseason games with three assists. On March 4, that fight paid off with his first professional contract and the hard work was rewarded Saturday night when he made his professional debut in front of a sold-out crowd at Sporting Park.

“It was great to be able to come out and play my first game with Sporting KC,” the 22-year-old midfielder said after Saturday night’s 1-1 draw vs. FC Dallas. “I’m very thankful I was able to play but it was unfortunate we did not get the win.”

Postgame: Alex Martinez

Martinez entered the match in the 75th minute for Colombian midfielder Jimmy Medranda, another promising player on Peter Vermes’ squad who made his first start for Sporting KC. Martinez was active on the ball, completing 13 passes and came close to securing the game-winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

After winning a free kick deep in Dallas territory, Martinez snuck behind the visitors’ backline and picked up a quick Seth Sinovic set piece at the top of the penalty box. The Uruguayan midfielder beat goalkeeper Chris Seitz with a right-footed shot to the far post, but defender Matt Hedges recovered in time to stop the shot and preserve the draw.

“I thought when Alex entered the field, the first couple minutes you could tell he was nervous, but then he calmed down and he started to play,” Vermes said. “I think both he and Jimmy [Medranda] have a good future with us and with MLS. Those guys gave a good effort for sure.”

“It’s an amazing feeling and I can only grow from here,” Martinez added postgame. “I’m just going to continue to work on whatever I can to get better and do whatever I can to help this team win.”