At one point in every child’s life, they have aspirations of playing professional sports. Whether its playing in the World Cup final or pitching in the ninth inning of game seven of the World Series, dreams are had every day, yet so few of them come true, except in the case of Seton Hall senior midfielder Brayan Martinez.
His dream of playing professional soccer took one step closer to reality on Jan. 18, when Major League Soccer franchise FC Dallas selected him with the sevententh pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft.
“I was really happy. I really wanted to play,” Martinez said. “That was my dream since I was little.”
Born in Uraguay, soccer was all Martinez knew and when he moved to the U.S. he made himself known as a midfielder for nearby West Orange High School.
While at West Orange, Martinez was the 2006-2007 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year, a two-time NSCAA/Adidas Boys High School All-American and a two-time Star-Ledger Player of the Year.
Martinez guided his team to the NJSIAA Group 4 championship and No. 17 national ranking.
When he began playing with the Pirates in 2007, he became an instant success.
“From the beginning he’s been an important guy for us,” men’s soccer head coach Manny Schellscheidt said. “He wasn’t a guy who in the beginning had to spend time on the bench and then little by little get himself into the starting lineup, no. He was a guy from the beginning on the field.”
During his four years with the Pirates, Martinez tallied 14 goals and 15 assists. In the 2010 season, he had a team-high six goals and ranked No. 8 in the Big East in points, where he was named to the All-Big East second team.
Martinez joins four other collegiate players that FC Dallas selected in this year’s draft.
“Martinez comes out of a program that plays good soccer,” FC Dallas Technical Director Barry Gorman said. “We saw him once during his college season and again at the MLS Combine. Both times we really liked what he was doing.”
FC Dallas is coming off of their best season in franchise history. They finished the season 12-4-14 for 50 points. The team also represented the Western Conference in the MLS Cup final, where they lost to the Colorado Rapids in extra time.
According to SB Nation’s “Big D Soccer” writer Daniel Robertson, Martinez will be competing for the final 2-4 spots on the FC Dallas 30 man roster, as part of the 10 developmental roster spots.
“I’m just excited to go there to see what the next level is like,” Martinez said. “I’m just really excited because after this there isn’t a better league. I’m really excited to know what it feels like to play in the pros.”
Martinez is the first Pirate since 2007 to be drafted by the MLS. Previous draftees include Sacha and Gordan Klejstan and Teddy Niziolek.
To be successful at the next level, Schellscheidt believes Martinez needs to play faster than ever before.
“Since he is not the fastest guy, he is not a fast runner, but he needs to play fast,” he said. “It’s the mental part of the game, seeing things early, getting the ball off his feet quick so he doesn’t need too many touches. He needs to get to a point where his touch and ability on the ball to get around the ball and not spend too much time on the ball and keep things moving.”
Martinez credits the coaching staff and former Pirate athlete Jason Hernandez, who was drafted by the MetroStars in 2005, with his success on the pitch.
“I think coach and Jason taught me to become a better player. They gave me the tools to play at the professional level.”
Martinez leaves for FC Dallas on Monday to begin training camp with the team.
From there, the team will travel and play at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and Mexico later next month.
Tim LeCras can be reached at email@example.com.