Despite his young age, Martinez has played both in Major League Soccer and USL Championship.
Las Vegas, NV -- Lights FC agreed to a loan with MLS side Chicago Fire that sends Panamanian midfielder Cristian Martinez to Las Vegas, pending league and federation approval. Martinez is a young winger with attacking qualities who has a bright future ahead of him after already being considered by his national team despite his young age.
Martinez becomes the sixth player to suit up with Lights FC after having played for their national team, joining Joel Huiqui (Mexico), Freddy Adu (U.S.A.), Daigo Kobayashi (Japan), Dejan Jaković (Canada), and Rodolfo Zelaya (El Salvador).
At the international level, Martinez made his debut with the Panamanian National Team in February 2016 against El Salvador in a friendly match. He played in a total of five games for his country in 2018, where he was named as part of Panama’s preliminary 35 man roster squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, his country’s first appearances in the most important soccer tournament in the world.
Martinez becomes the sixth player with National Team experience to be signed by Las Vegas Lights FC.
At 22 years old, Cristian Martinez already has 7 years of experience as a professional soccer player. He joined the youth team of his hometown’s Chorrillo F.C. at the age of 8, being elevated to the club’s first team in 2012.
In 2016 he made the transition to the United States by being loaned out to Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, where he scored a goal in his debut. He played a total of three seasons with Columbus, making 27 appearances (14 starts) in league play and one postseason appearance.
Martinez was selected by the Chicago Fire in the 2018 MLS Waiver Draft, where he has 5 appearances in the current season. Last month he was called up to the U-22 Panama National Team, where he was a starter in both games that they played against El Salvador in a pre-Olympic qualifying series.
This won’t be his first rodeo in USL Championship, as he was loaned from Columbus Crew to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2016 and to FC Cincinnati in 2017.