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SANDY — Juan Manuel Martinez, also known as "El Burrito," arrived in Salt Lake City on Friday afternoon after the local Major League Soccer club acquired him as a discovery signing earlier in the week, and the club introduced him to members of the local media Monday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Martinez spent the past two seasons with legendary Argentine club Boca Juniors, but the 29-year-old forward and married father of two has had his sights set on playing in the United States — and he'd prefer to do so away from the big cities like Los Angeles and New York City.
Sounds like Salt Lake and its 190,000 population will suit him just fine.
"I'm very happy to be here in this city and in this country," Martinez said Monday. "The first days were wonderful and I'm happy to start to play."
Martinez played four games for Argentina's national team in 2011 and 2012, scoring one goal and earning a penalty kick that was converted by Lionel Messi in his first outing with the Albiceleste. The pair also shared Argentina's Footballer of the Year Award in 2010, the same year Martinez scored 10 goals to help Velez Sarsfield win the Apertura title.
He also has experience at the FIFA Club World Cup, playing in the annual tournament during a layover with Brazil's Corinthians against Chelsea FC of the Premier League.
But when the time came to bring his career and his family to Salt Lake City, the decision was easy.
"It was very easy for me to take the decision to come here," Martinez said.
Martinez was on the 18-man game day roster for last Saturday's 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, and head coach Jeff Cassar said Tuesday the new designated player will travel with the club to FC Dallas for this weekend's contest. His availability will depend on how he acclimates to his new team.