UNC's Martinez Heads 2012 Draft Class

UNC midfielder leads RSL's three-man SuperDraft "Class of 2012"

KANSAS CITY (Thursday, January 14, 2012) – Real Salt Lake kept all three selections in today’s 2012 MLS SuperDraft at the Kansas City Convention Center, the Utah side highlighting its picks with the selection of University of North Carolina midfielder and Generation adidas product Enzo Martinez towards the end of the first round (17th overall). Real Salt Lake closed out its draft day in the second round by plucking Southern Methodist University defender Diogo de Almeida and Spartanburg Methodist College midfielder Sebastian Velasquez with the 24th and 36th picks, respectively.

The RSL Technical Staff was more than happy to take the 21-year-old Martinez off the draft board, as the Utah side’s braintrust was shocked to see the creative midfielder drop down to the 17th spot. The Rock Hill, S.C., native has won championships at every level growing through the ranks, most recently as a member of UNC Tarheels, who he helped lead to the 2011 NCAA College Cup title last fall thanks to a nine-goal, 11-assist performance during his junior campaign. During his three seasons in Chapel Hill, Martinez scored 22 goals and assisted on 20 more in 72 appearances (53 starts) in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.

Real Salt Lake’s search for a left back of the future might have ended with the selection of Diogo de Almeida, an athletic, left-footed winger out of SMU. After coming off the bench as a forward for the Mustangs during his freshman season and a midfielder the following year, de Almeida found his stride after moving to the backline as a junior in 2010. The accolades and attention began to roll his way shortly thereafter, culminating with his selection as the Conference USA Defender of the Year last fall following a senior season in which the 23-year-old also bagged four goals during his 20 games (19 starts). During his collegiate career, the native of Piricicaba, Brazil, scored nine goals and added three assists in 70 appearances (46 starts).

With the third-to-last pick of today’s SuperDraft, Real Salt Lake went for a diamond in the rough in Sebastian Velasquez, a midfielder out of Spartanburg Methodist College, a junior college based in South Carolina. The Greenville, S.C., native, by way of his birthplace of Colombia, was an offensive juggernaut during his two seasons of collegiate ball, notching 20 goals and 17 assists during his freshman campaign (14 games) and bumping the production up to a ridiculous 35 goals and 16 assists last fall as a sophomore (19 games), leading to his selection as a NJCAA Second Team All-American. The 20-year-old Velasquez, who was a teammate of Martinez’s at the club level in South Carolina, was recommended to the RSL Technical Staff and impressed enough during the squad’s combine last month in Arizona to earn a SuperDraft selection.

As a member of the Generation adidas player development program, Martinez will not count against RSL’s base salary budget. Both Martinez and de Almeida ar ein the process of obtaining full U.S. citizenship and would occupy one of the squad’s six International Player slots once officially added to the roster by Major League Soccer. The four RSL players currently under contract that occupy International slots are Argentineans Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola, Costa Rican Alvaro Saborio and Colombia native Jamison Olave.

The roster building will continue for Real Salt Lake next Tuesday, Jan. 17, when the four-round MLS Supplemental Draft will occur via a conference call. Eight days later on Jan. 25, Real Salt Lake players will report to Salt Lake City for entrance physicals before beginning their offseason in earnest with five days of training in Utah prior to the team’s first Spring Training trip to Arizona. Click here for Real Salt Lake’s full 2012 preseason schedule.

RSL Nation can secure their seats now for Real Salt Lake’s 2012 home opener on Saturday, March 17 against the New York Red Bulls via the “RSL 2-Pack,” which includes a pair of seats to both the Rio Tinto Stadium debut and any other MLS regular season game in Sandy beginning at just $80. In addition, fans can lock up their preferred spot at RSL’s home all season long if they Join the Pride and become a 2012 RSL Season Ticket Holder. Both of these unbeatable ticket options can be purchased online at www.RealSaltLake.com or over the phone at 801-727-2700.

TRANSACTION: Real Salt Lake selects MF Enzo Martinez (17th overall), DF Diogo de Almeida (24th overall) and MF Sebastian Velasquez (36th overall) in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft in Kansas City

RSL at the MLS SuperDraft – “A/V Club”

 

RSL at the MLS SuperDraft – Quote Sheet

Head Coach Jason Kreis

On first round selection MF Enzo Martinez:

“He’s a fit for our team. He’s a technically-gifted player, a guy that works extremely hard and, more important than both of those things, is that fact that he’s a fantastic kid that just wants to succeed at this level in the worst way.”

On the attributes of second round pick DF Diogo de Almeida:

“We feel Diogo could be the left back that we’ve been looking for for several years now. He’s got good size and is a good technical player that’s coming from an established program at SMU and, on top of that, he was one of the best athletes at the combine this year. We’ve been looking for an athletic guy that can get up the field and get back and cover ground and is left-footed and can serve a good ball in. He’s checked all of those boxes for us, so we’re very excited about his prospects.”

On unearthing second round selection MF Sebastian Velasquez:

“This was an interesting one; we got some inside information through a connection about the player. We got some rave reviews from several people, so we started by looking at his highlights on the internet, and we really liked what we saw. Then we followed up with some more people before inviting him to our combine last month. He played in front of our staff and they were very, very impressed by him, so we’ll see how he pans out. He’s a dynamic midfielder with attacking tendencies, but also a kid who had a fantastic interview and seems to be a fantastic person and is very hungry to succeed.”

On this year’s overall crop of draftees:

“For me, this year’s draft was quite deep.The number of quality players available that I think are going to be very good MLS players was higher than it has been for the last three or four years. Maybe I’m looking at it this way because we’re a little bit in need, so perhaps I look at it with a positive eye, but I don’t think so. If you talk to other MLS coaches I think we all feel that way and I think we’re all in the same boat. I don’t think there’s too many teams out there that will rely on their selections as much as we will.”

 

MF Enzo Martinez – 17th pick (first round) in 2012 MLS SuperDraft

On fitting in with his new club:

“When I met with the coaches at the combine I came out of that meeting so happy and felt so comfortable that I absolutely loved it, so I’m very happy to have the opportunity to come to Real Salt Lake and show what I have. I want my greatest quality to be being a hard worker, and I’ll look to do things on the ball and help the team as much as possible.”

On getting ready for the professional ranks:

“I watched RSL throughout the playoffs and obviously when they won MLS Cup a couple of years ago. I’m going to go home and run a lot and watch lots of tape and get involved as much as possible so I’m not blinded coming in and will know a little bit of the team’s background. The hard work starts right now so I’m really excited; I want to learn the style and learn every position I can.”

 

MF Sebastian Velasquez – 36th pick (second round) in 2012 MLS SuperDraft

On joining the ranks of Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake:

“I'm so, so psyched to join Real Salt Lake, and I can't believe I'm teammates again with Enzo Martinez! I love watching RSL and their style of play. I followed them all through CONCACAF (Champions League) – especially the Monterrey games – and feel so lucky to get a chance to join them; they're the Barcelona of MLS.”

On his reaction when finding out about his selection:

“I'm visiting my family back in Colombia, and since they don't have ESPN3 I was following the tracker on MLSsoccer.com. We all just screamed and started crying when I saw my name come up.”

 

RSL at the SuperDraft – Player Bios

 

Enzo Martinez

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5’7’’                  Weight: 160 lbs.

Born: September 29, 1990 in Montevideo, Uruguay

Hometown: Rock Hill, S.C.

Citizenship: Uruguay

College: University of North Carolina

MLS Experience: Rookie

Last Club: University of North Carolina (2009-11)

 

Collegiate Stats at UNC

Year                             GP/GS        G          A   

2011 (junior)                  26/25          9          11

2010 (sophomore)         24/22          10         5

2009 (freshman)            22/6            3          4   

Totals                           72/53          22         20

 

Career Highlights/Accolades: Named a NSCAA First Team All-American and to Soccer America’s MVP’s Second Team following his junior season in 2011 … Also named a NSCAA Third Team All-American and to the All-Atlantic Conference Second Team as a sophomore in 2010 … Played club soccer for Discoveries Soccer Club out of Rock Hill

Misc: Member of the 2012 Generation adidas class … Along with his girlfriend, founded “Kicking for a Cause,” a charitable cause that raises money for local organizations and families in need in his hometown of Rock Hill … Bilingual speaker is fluent in both English and Spanish … Uncle, Miguel Beltran, played for Nacional, a powerhouse in his native Uruguay … Moved to the United States from Uruguay at the age of 10

 

Diogo de Almeida

Position: Defender

Height: 6’0’’                  Weight: 175 lbs.

Born: January 2, 1989 in Piricicaba, Brazil

Hometown: Piricicaba, Brazil

Citizenship:  Brazil

College: University of North Carolina

MLS Experience: Rookie

Last Club: University of North Carolina (2009-11)

Pronunciation: ZHO-go day al-MAY-da

 

Collegiate Stats at SMU

Year                             GP/GS        G          A   

2011 (senior)                 20/20          4          0

2010 (junior)                  19/18          0          0

2009 (sophomore)         13/4            0          1

2008 (freshman)            18/4            5          2   

Totals                           72/53          22         20

 

Career Highlights/Accolades: Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year; All-Conference USA First Team and NSCAA All-Midwest First Team performer as a senior in 2011 … Versatile athlete moved from midfielder to defender between his sophomore and junior campaigns, this after he began his collegiate career at forward as a freshman … After starting his youth career in the U.S. in the FC Dallas youth system, moved on to play for the Dallas Texans ’90 … While growing up in Brazil, grew up in the youth system of Sao Paulo FC alongside former MLS performers Juninho (LA Galaxy), Alex Cazumba (Galaxy) and Jackson (FC Dallas)

Misc: Moved to the United States from Brazil in 2007 for the last half of his junior year at Oakridge H.S. in Arlington, Texas … Speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish … Majored in Markets Culture and Spanish at SMU …

 

Sebastian Velasquez

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5’11’’                 Weight: 155 lbs.

Born: February 11, 1991 in Colombia

Hometown: Greenville, S.C.

Citizenship:  Colombia

College: Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College

MLS Experience: Rookie

Last Club: Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College (2009-11)

 

Collegiate Stats at Spartanburg Methodist College (JuCo)

Year                             GP/GS        G          A   

2011 (sophomore)         19/-             35         16

2010 (freshman)            14/-             20         17  

Totals                           33/-             55         33

 

Career Highlights/Accolades: Named NJCAA Second Team All-American after prolific scoring season in 2011 … Played with fellow 2012 draftee Enzo Martinez in youth circles in South Carolina

 

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