EDINBURG, Texas – With more than half of the 2019 USL Championship season gone, and a five-point gap to the playoff places, Rio Grande Valley FC is eager to make a run at the postseason.
And while the Toros have hit some bumps in the road in their pursuit of the playoffs – the signing of Michael Salazar with the club’s MLS partner the Houston Dynamo and Maalique Foster’s departure on international duty for Jamaica at the 2019 Gold Cup to name two – there have been new faces that have certainly surprised most of us, if not all, as they’ve stepped to the fore to try and keep the Toros within reach of a place in the playoffs.
One key player who has caught not only the attention of local fans, but also the Dynamo, has been Isidro Martinez, also known as “Chelo.” The Brownsville, Texas native has been one of the most dynamic players for the Toros this season, putting in impressive work as a box-to-box midfielder. How does one have enough oxygen in their lungs to cover large areas during games and practice? Who knows, but Chelo does it.
Martinez has appeared in all 21 Championship games for the Toros this season, making 18 starts and sitting first on the team with 1,712 minutes of action. He also leads the team with 47 key passes and 28 interceptions, while doing plenty of midfield work with 25 tackles and a duel success rate of 58 percent. In addition to those impressive numbers, the 22-year-old has racked up four assists and his first professional goal.
His performances saw Chelo called up to the Dynamo last week as Houston squared off with Liga MX powerhouse Club America in the Quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup on July 25 at BBVA Stadium. Although he did not see any minutes, just putting on a Dynamo jersey was enough motivation for the local player.
“I am happy to be here and for the opportunity,” said Martinez on his call-up to the Dynamo. “It was surprising to receive the call and be able to be here. I never thought it would be this quick.”
Martinez is the latest hopeful looking to make the move from the Toros to the Dynamo, but as a native of the Rio Grande Valley he is also a standard bearer for other local talent that will try to follow in his footsteps. With the Toros now in their fourth season, Chelo’s progression has shown the way, and is a model for future local players to find their way to the professional ranks in the Championship.
“Being from the RGV, I hope there are other players that can have an opportunity like they’ve given me,” said Martinez. “But it’s the work that you put in day by day and just need to keep improving so they can also receive the call like I did.”
For now, Martinez will work on helping the Toros finish the season strongly, starting with Saturday’s key game at H-E-B Park against Reno 1868 FC, which currently sits second in the Western Conference.
But after receiving his first opportunity with the Dynamo, the future could be wide open for the local standout as he looks to take the next step in his career.
# SOMOS TOROS #