Martinez, Okugo earn second looks from Union


CHESTER, Pa. -- When a team is struggling like the Union is, something must change.

Fortunately for the team, something occurred in Tuesday nights win against the Rochester Rhinos in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play that helped that cause along.

Josue Martinez was involved the whole time, said assistant coach John Hackworth about his rarely used striker, who had a goal and key assist. From the first goal and in particular the second one, it was a fantastic ball. He put it just over the defenders head. That kind of service is hard to miss.

Sitting at 2-7-2 and coming off one of the worst losses in team history to hapless and previously winless Toronto FC last Saturday, the Union received a strong effort from 22-year-old Martinez. Buried behind Lionard Pajoy and Danny Mwanga on the attack depth chart, Martinez hasnt found many minutes179 in nine games, to be exactduring MLS play.

However, the minutes he is putting in are beginning to pay off.

We have a lot of young guys who are very talented, said Hackworth. If Josue can continue to play that soccer he certainly deserves some more minutes, and as a staff, well evaluate. Hes definitely an option right now but he needs to play that way consistently. He can approve on some things he did tonight but he certainly had a good performance.

Martinez scored the opening goal on a muffed clear from the Rhinos back line in just the fifth minute and he participated in the Unions second goal when he connected a perfect cross pass to the head of Adu, who easily bumped the ball home. Martinez continued to be a force in the second half of the contest, firing away at the Rhinos net, earning five shots on the day.

Im happy because through the weeks this is the opportunity we work forwe work to get an opportunity to play, said Martinez. Luckily we got the goal in the first couple minutes and that gave us the ability to control the game.

Hackworth was impressed.

Hes a young guy with a ton of potential, said the coach, who filled in for suspended Peter Nowak. We brought him here with the thought that hed be the type of player we saw tonight.

Yet Martinez was just one of two standout performances the Union received from non-starters. On the other side of the ball, rarely used defensive midfielder Amobi Okugo made the start at center back for suspended Carlos Valdes.

Playing just 160 minutes this season, Okugo stepped in and contributed

We have a number of situations that happened to us where some spots are pretty thin, said Hackworth. But thats perfect for a guy like Amobi, who hasnt had a start of 90-minute game in awhile and look at his performance, I thought he was fantastic. When you do that in a game like today, it brings the guys together because they have that confidence and thats so important.

Stuck behind Gabriel Gomez and Brian Carroll on the midfield depth chart, Okugo has struggled to find time. And as the Union battle with their lack of defensive depth, especially in the center, Okugo may have found his new short-term position and more importantly, a way to get on the field.

Its good, Im really comfortable at center back as Ive played there in my past. Its nothing new, said Okugo. I was just trying to keep is simple and be strong.

You have to play where youre called upon. When they call your name, you have to be ready.
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