The presence of the holidays seems to signify to most MLS die-hards that the 2012 season grows ever-closer, and it's with that thought in mind we continue our player profiles with a pair of midfielders: National Champion UNC's Enzo Martinez, and Louisville's Nick DeLeon!
Enzo Martinez has been on the radar of MLS clubs for quite some time already. It all began in 2009, when the midfielder was named ESPN RISE Player of the DECADE. You read that right, the DECADE. In high school, Martinez scored a jaw-dropping 182 goals, was player of the year in South Carolina all four years of high school, and went 24-0-0 in his senior season, capping off both a state and national title run.
Martinez is everything you look for in a midfielder, and after making a fairly smooth transition for goal-scorer to set-up man, it's plain to see what has scouts and managers swooning over his services. It's the quick, decisive play in the midfield that makes Martinez so dangerous. What sticks out is not only is he incredibly quick, but it's a controlled speed, which is vital to his style of play given his lack of over-the-top physical presence (Enzo is listed as 5'7", 145lbs.)
Coming off of a stellar season capped off with the College Cup title, the UNC Tar Heel junior looks primed and ready to come out of school early and sign with MLS. Given the fact that his stock could possibly never be higher than it currently is, and with talks of Martinez being offered a Generation Adidas contract, that easily vaults him into Top-5 pick territory. Martinez could easily step into the Revs' lineup and contribute, as his past history has shown not only can he adapt well in new roles and levels of competition, but he can contribute in big ways as well.
Louisville's season may have ended on a sour note with a double-OT loss to UCLA in the QuarterFinals of the College Cup, but it hasn't stopped the stock of midfielder Nick DeLeon from rising to the top of several draft boards. DeLeon is bigger than Martinez (5'10", 170lbs.) and plays much more of the role of provider in the Cardinals' system.
The Cardinals' senior put up modest numbers in the 2011 season, with only 6 goals and 6 assists, but if ever there were a time to play the "stats aren't everything" card, it would be now. While watching the Louisville team play, it's plain to see that just about everything went through DeLeon in the midfield. He's technically very gifted and sound, and the field vision that he exhibited in the College Cup is what excites most MLS clubs.
It'd be hard to see where DeLeon would play in the Revs' system, but with hints of possibly returning to the 3-5-2 floating around, it'd be great to see a creator like Nick DeLeon in the middle of coach Jay Heaps' lineup. With a bigger frame, and a nose for hard tackles and physical play, New England fans would fall in love with the blue-collar, straight-forward approach of this talented midfielder.