As momentum builds toward Major League Soccer’s 26th season in 2021, Sporting Kansas City players and coaches will look to lay the foundations for another successful campaign when preseason training unfolds this month in Arizona.
With newcomers joining familiar faces for the 2021 preseason presented by Children’s Mercy, SportingKC.com has launched the “Sporting Preseason Spotlight” web series to acquaint supporters with the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards who will help Sporting Kansas City compete for silverware in 2021. To read up on every player and visit the series archive as it expands, head to SportingKC.com/Spotlight.
Few players on Sporting's roster can boast the fact that they have competed in two of the best domestic leagues in Europe. Among those who can is 28-year-old defender Luis Martins, who is entering his third season in MLS with hopes of reaching new heights as a dynamic left back. He also just became a father, which could give him some special daddy power on the pitch.
Martins, who joined Sporting in August of 2019, boasts a decade of professional experience, including stints in the top-flight Portuguese Primeira Liga and the Spanish La Liga. Internationally, the talented left back represented Portugal at the U-16 through U-21 levels from 2008-2014.
Born and raised in Lamego, Portugal, Martins developed as a youth player in the Benfica academy and began his professional career with European giants Benfica in 2011. He enjoyed subsequent top-flight stints at Gil Vicente (2013-14), Maritimo (2017-18) and Chaves (2018-19) in Portugal as well as Granada (2014-15) and Osasuna (2015-16) in Spain.
Martins began the 2020 campaign brilliantly, tallying an assist in a season-opening win at Vancouver Whitecaps FC and impressing in a 4-0 defeat of the Houston Dynamo in Week 2. The Portuguese left back experienced an injury setback following the MLS is Back Tournament and featured sporadically thereafter, ending the campaign with two assists in 14 appearances and 11 starts across all competitions.
Like some of his teammates, Martins experienced ups and downs in 2020 due to injury. If the defender stays fully fit for the duration of 2021, expect him to contribute valuably as Sporting navigates a busy campaign from April to November and potentially beyond.
According to FBref.com, Martins ranked in the 87th percentile among MLS full backs in 2020 with 2.37 shot creating actions per 90 minutes played. A shot-creating action is any action that leads to a shot, such as a pass, a dribble or a foul drawn.
He Said It
"When you come into a new team, you aren’t going to know how certain guys play and you aren’t going to know the style the team plays. Luis is basically relying on instinct, so for him to be playing this well, that’s a sign that he’s a very smart player.”
Former Sporting defender Matt Besler remarking on Martins shortly after his arrival to Sporting in 2019.
Did You Know?
On Feb. 26, Martins and his wife welcomed their newborn son Lucas into the world.
On Social Media
Ready for some adorable baby photos? Supporters can follow Martins on Instagram at @lui3martin6.