What next for dismissed U.S. Under-17 star Martinez?


                                              Photo by ISIphotos.com

It was about 10 months ago when most U.S. national team fans first saw or heard about Carlos Martinez.

The young Under-17 national team player wowed spectators with his two game-winning goals in last winter’s Nike Friendlies and eager and overzealous fans began penciling him in as one of the potential stars of the national team program even though he was just 15 at the time.

Martinez was certainly on that track as one of the jewels of the U.S. Under-17 national team residency program. At least before he was kicked out of the program recently.

ESPN Soccernet colleague Justin Rodriguez was all over the news that Martinez was dismissed from the residency program in Bradenton, Florida for violating team rules repeatedly, shedding some major light onto an unfortunate situation.

Martinez already has an agent and there is talk about professional trials and potential contracts for a player who doesn’t even turn 17 until January.

Has Martinez become a victim of his own hype? Is it just a case of an immature kid making some mistakes? Count me among those who worry about the future of a player who could wind up joining a long list of players who never fulfilled their potential because of their own inability to grow up, or the inability of those around them to lead them down the right path.

Again, Martinez just 16, so there’s still time for him to figure things out. Here is hoping he doesn’t lose his way because Martinez certainly has the talent to be special, but history has shown us that talent alone can only get you so far.

What do you think of the Carlos Martinez situation? Share your thoughts below.

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55 Responses to What next for dismissed U.S. Under-17 star Martinez?

  1. james says:

    I don’t think the door is closed on him at all, as teams in Europe will certainly sign him. I already think Feyernoord has taken interest in him.

  2. elopingcamel says:

    Poor guy didn’t get the memo that first you become rich, famous, and a soccer superstar, and THEN you go pick up male hookers on “accident.” Someone needs to put him in touch with Ronaldo to help straighten him out.

  3. northzax says:

    james: but they can’t do that for 15 months, at least.

    by the way, Ives, great pic.

    is Martinez eligible for the SuperDraft? could the league sign him to a GenAd deal?

  4. Jacob A. says:

    Keep in mind he’s got a year and a half before he can sign a pro contract out of the nation, so he may get drafted or something next year for MLS, but for the next few months, he’s kind of in no man’s land.

  5. Ives says:

    Thanks Northzax, I thought it went perfectly with the story.

    And guys, Martinez can’t sign a binding pro contract outside the United States until he turns 18, which is January of 2010. He could sign with MLS, which I think is a real possibility.

  6. brett says:

    northzax – i think with the hopes of getting picked up by a european team, i think the MLS is out of the question….

    what im glad to see is Martinez is getting his head on straight and still hopes to represent the US… he realizes he screwed up and hopes he can get back… i think he’s out come U17s WC squad, but U20’s is still up on the table… i think if he goes abroad and works hard, then the he’ll have a world of possiblities…

  7. brett says:

    ives- couldnt he go and play within the academy or youth sides of a euro team??

  8. jgildea says:

    He is a kid. They do not need money and fame to be cocky and stubborn… they just are naturally.

    Hopefully this is an ‘oh, sh*t’ moment that makes him realize that he can lose it if he is not careful.

  9. Reid says:

    can’t he “train” with the team just not “sign” with the team until he is 18?

  10. Modibo says:

    From what I understand from the story, Martinez missed curfew. If there’s more there – dissent or disrespect to coaches and staff, strife with other players – then I’d be more worried about his lack of maturity. Who knows, he may burn out before he’s 20, or just fade. But that’s a different issue than his maturity, in my opinion. There are plenty of talented high-performing troublemakers out there who did have the maturity to develop as athletes to achieve great feats on the field.

  11. cbr says:

    the kids these days i tell ya

  12. Alejnadro Ruiz says:

    on bigsoccer the story is that he snuck a girl into his room. But who knows or cares, the kid is sixteen.

    Trust me, I went through a similar thing his age(kicked out of an elite school). After the tears, I vowed I’d make them sorry and I busted my ass.

  13. Ives says:

    Brett and Reid, Martinez could join a foreign youth academy but can’t sign any binding contracts and can’t be paid, so we’re talking a lot of trust on both parts. Not many clubs are interested in investing in a kid who can just wake away when they turn 18.

  14. Bits says:

    I heard he had his girlfriend at a hotel which was the final straw. Big deal.. not so much but it went against team rules and he knew it.

    Also, who is his agent? I have never heard of him before. No NCAA for him now either if he were able to graduate early from high school – a pity.

  15. brett says:

    ooooo good point ives…. but do most teams sign their academy players?? isnt that a risk?? alot of napoli fans are saying thats one of the big reasons they signed Bernardo is in fear he’d be poached by a english side….

  16. brett says:

    Bits – with his ability he doesnt need NCAA… he could easily get signed by a MLS side soon as ives pointed out… and with all the excitement from europe, ives is also pointing out that he could end up there in a year n’ a half….

    college will always be there… get your use of pro soccer first, then get educated 😛

  17. jgildea says:


    How was Preston Zimmerman’s contract arranged. He waited until he was 18, was that faith on the part of Hamburg?

  18. EastLAChiva says:

    If he were white, he’d have been given another chance. Just kidding.

    He needs to grow up. Duh! He’s coming back to San Pedro, Ca which can either a good thing (family ties) or a bad thing (cholos).

    I hope Chivas USA signs him because he is exactly the type of player that needs for the system they run. Galaxy has shot at him and will probably offer him tons of cash.

    Bratty, spoiled, and immature players in the US? Overhyped? Sounds like Landon Donovan. Maybe he could be a mentor to this wunderkid. Doubtful, but you never know.

  19. Rudy says:

    He’s a kid, kids eff up. That’s what they do, hopefully he can get back on track.

  20. BlueWhiteLion says:

    People are usually sorry when they get caught or reprimanded. Whether he is truly sorry comes out with the kinds of steps he takes to correct his mistakes–and whether he even owns up to them. Someone needs to lay out a serious plan for “redemption”, and not make it easy. If it is too easy or shoved under the rug, he won’t learn a thing. I wish him well, hope he has good mentors.

  21. CACuzcatlan says:

    Ives, didn’t Barca take that risk with Geo and Arsenal with Vela?

  22. JL says:

    Well based on the article, hopefully he uses this in the same way he did when he got subbed from the ODP team. I doubt it was one curfew violation but rather several misteps, so he prob deserved a kick in the pants. Glad to see Wilmer not afraid to kick a very talented kid out of the program to send everyone a message. Maybe its just me, but I am not sure in the past coaches would be as willing to cut loose such a skilled player. It would be interesting if he goes to MLS, as it would seem to be almost beneficial that he was booted, because now he becomes pro sooner. Interesting.

  23. Ives says:

    No CaCuzcatlan, Dos Santos was with Barca for years before FIFA tightened the rules. Vela signed with Arsenal in 2005, before the tightened rules. Even still, both those players were more established than Martinez is now so it will be interesting just what his options are right now.

    There’s a reason FIFA put the rules in place, so that rich clubs don’t go grabbing kids from around the world at will.

  24. Eugene says:

    Santino Quaranta v2

    You seriously have to wonder why this kid would repeatedly break curfew and what he was out doing when he was breaking curfew. Is it a girl or girls? Drugs? For many people it’s easy to stay on the straight and narrow, for others it’s near impossible.

    I would really encourage people not to get their hopes up about this kid, sounds like he has some potentially deep-seated problems.

    Would love to see him work his way out of those though and succeed.

  25. Brian says:

    The guy can go play in an euro academy if he wants. He just can’t sign a pro contract outside of the US until he’s 18.

    2 years in MLS won’t kill him, look what it did for Jozy. If he’s as good as the hype then he’ll turn out just fine and make a couple hundred grand before making the jump after his 18th.

  26. david arvizu says:

    What ever happened to me?

  27. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Since he’s the only 16 year old in history to get into trouble, I can see why people want to give up…

  28. Emarcel says:

    This kid doesn’t have any type of dual citizenship, does he?

    Please tell me he doesn’t. I do not want to hear about Mexico coming in & sweeping this kid off his feet while we’re rubbing his nose in poop.

  29. Tom P says:

    Joseph-Claude Gyau – I missed the buzz on this one. Any info on him?

  30. Matthew Maier says:

    Ives, or anyone:

    Can someone explain the rules around why a sub-18 year old can sign a contract in the United States, but not overseas? I assume it’s related to citizenship, but just curious, because it seems odd to me that he can sign a professional contract here, but not overseas, where the hiring team could just “sponsor” him and get him a visa, much like overseas companies do today when they want to hire someone from abroad.


  31. Matthew Maier says:

    Also, this kid is 16. If you can’t make these kind of mistakes at this age, then when can you? It’s called a maturation process for a reason. And most kids are NOT like Jozy Altidore at 16, just look at most of the goof-balls you see running around the local high school.

    Whether Carlos violated curfew, had a girl in his room, or is just disrespectful to the coaches, he deserves to be punished for breaking rules, but the idea that he’s somehow “written off” at age 16 is beyond laughable.

    With some good direction (and here’s hoping he has some), he should be just fine.

  32. northzax says:

    mm, it’s a FIFA rule, once you are on one fed’s books, you can’t sign a pro contract in another country until you are 18. The exception is within the eu where you can join another eu country at 17.

    Kids screw up. It happens. So now we shall see.

  33. Phillip says:


    Martinez should head to a European club right now.

  34. Brian says:

    How long has the residency program been around now and how many kids have gone through it? If my memory is correct, landon and DMB were part of the first class which would have been about 10 years ago.

    So out of the 250ish kids (rough estimate, let me know if I’m way off) that have come through the program, has anyone else ever been excused for breaking team rules?

    He must have done something worse than sneaking out of the hotel room, or fraternizing with a girl once or twice. If that’s all it took to get kicked out then no kid would ever make it through the academy.

  35. NOLA soccer fan says:

    we’ve seen this story many times before. Great talent, thinks the world is his, screws up his chances. its sad everytime.

    i can only hope this kid gets on the right track and makes something of his talent. There are too many stories of kids like this throwing it away. Id hate to see one more to that list

  36. ryan says:


    2 things.

    1. You rock, stories like this along with other USMNT tidbits have me coming to your site multiple times a day.

    2.Emarcel touched on it, please tell me that this kid can’t run off and play for Mexico (or that he would even be interested) Did we just “trade” for Jose Francisco Torres for future compensation to El Tri in the form of Carlos Martinez? I caramba.

    How would everyone rate the three prospects of Renken, Gyau & Martinez? Im just looking for a list 1-3.

  37. MetroFlip73 says:

    Breaking rules for hairpie? Especially when he knows when he’s going to be a pro that he’ll get plenty of hairpie?

    Well, he’ll get drafted, but whatever team looks at him is gonna grill his agent over “character issues”

  38. mike says:

    Looks like the US youth team is making Subotic part II.

    Dont worry they will replace him with player with little technical ability who is fast and gets rid of the ball as soon as he gets it

  39. ryan says:

    lol mike well said, pass and move pass and move

  40. Aquaman says:

    He will have his chances to re-establish himself. I hope he finds some way to keep in shape, etc. while waiting for his next opportunity. Mostly, I hope that he learns from this mistake and moves on. I’m sure that US soccer will forgive and forget because it wasn’t a huge disciplinary issue and Martinez will just have to remain ready for the day that they do come calling again.

  41. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    Phillip, I can only assume you have not been reading the other posts. Otherwise, you would of known that he CAN’T sign a contract with a European club until he is 18. This could turn out to be a plus for MLS, if the kid is truly a talent. His options are limited now, so he might turn to MLS.

  42. He got kicked out for curfew, having a girl in his room / at a hotel…?

    OK – I doubly like this kid – sounds like he is a true American teenager.

    Why do we expect soccer players to have flair and play the beautiful creative game on the field, but be robots off it? The discipline to work hard consistently is going to be required, but lets not kill the samba in a young man’s heart. Hey, we’re not living in English fog – spicy food for us does not mean “salted” and loud clothing for us goes beyond a lighter shade of gray!

    OK, so he was 15 and made a mistake in terms of being in the good graces of the US U-17 national soccer program. That’s a minor shame – but who more for – Martinez or the US? Instead of kicking him out they should have allowed him to work his way back into good graces. That’s what my high school coach made me do. 😉

    Of course if he had too much ego to do that, that would be a weakness. On the other hand coaches can be amazingly tyrannical and arrogant, even when they are no where near the caliber of a true world class coach.

    I’ve got to go with “Viva Martinez!”

    He was 15. Bring him back into the fold, onto the path of soccer greatness. If he loves the sport, the key ingredient, his desire will make him a must have player.

    I think the current situation may be partly a coaching error.

  43. Pete says:

    he’s a 16 year old. i was in prep school at 16 and i would do alot worse things then Martinez. kids make dumb decisions and they grow up. let’s all relax and hope he matures after this experience.

  44. alticooper says:

    haha gotta love the pic… good work Ives. As for martinez, its not a biggie. Im actually kinda glad to hear he had a girl in his room and not a male hooker pretending to be a women (cough ronaldo cough)

  45. tbisgrove says:

    Maybe I missed it, but where was he born, and what is his parental nationality? I just had the thought pop into my head that this is the last we see of him playing for the US…

  46. SonicDeathMonkey says:

    Also keep in mind folks, he didn’t get kicked out for having a girl in a hotel room, he got kicked out for violating team rules repeatedly. Meaning, this isn’t the first time he screwed up. Just something to chew on.

  47. yoman says:

    Dude needs to move to europe and play either for Columbia or Spain….

    Hey USSF….good job…consider him gone too.

    US soccer is RUN By Headmasters//

  48. yoman says:

    If ends up in Mexico , then they will give him citzenship and cap him.

    Carlos Martinez is drawing interest from both MLS clubs in Los Angeles, top flight clubs in Mexico ………soccer365

  49. yoman says:

    If Carlos ends up in Mexico, then they will give him citzenship and cap him.

    Carlos Martinez is drawing interest from both MLS clubs in Los Angeles, top flight clubs in Mexico ………soccer365

  50. Jonathan says:

    Subotic II

    I’ll be waiting when the whining begins about the traitor/user/opportunistic/unpatriotic/unAmerican Martinez.

  51. InTheKnow says:

    This was not Carlos’ first offense. He has been warned in the past and was made to remain in Bradenton while the team went to Chicago last year for a pretty serious offense. The boys in Bradenton said the Cabrera was sick about having to send him home. Don’t be be surprised if he is brought back into the fold before the world cup.

  52. martha says:

    With Mexico poaching the world for talent this guy is as good as gone.

  53. brett says:

    for all the posters who are claiming this was the USSF’s fault then you need the full details..

    this was not the kid’s first offense… he’s a repeat rule breaker…. and while i understand he’s just a kid, he also needs to take this lesson and learn from it…

    he wont pull a subotic, as he’s claimed he still dreams of playing with the US… he and his agent realize it was his fault, not that the USSF is attacking him… he’ll be back in the USSF picture before we realize it…. if not with the U17’s, then with the U20’s… we arent going to abandon a kid of this potential over something as small as breaking curfew…

  54. brett says:

    and i stress….

    “Martinez still dreams of playing for the full U.S. national team one day”

    “I miss my friends, my coaches, the training sessions,” said Martinez in a brief statement. “That was my home and I loved the whole experience. It was a dream come true. To be around kids that exceptional was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    Martinez will work his way back into the system, there is no doubt… this is a lesson he should take to heart and learn from…..

  55. Michael F. says:

    His Dad, agent and one of his advisors all commented on the situation. How about he gets rid of the agent and “advisors” and just listens to his parents and coaches? All the others have financial interests in him and are surely filling his head with crap leadinf him down the wrong path.