Monterey Bay F.C. announced today that the club has signed Santa Cruz native, Walmer Martinez, as its first official player signing. Martinez was acquired via transfer by Monterey Bay F.C. from fellow USL Championship club Hartford Athletic after playing his first season in the league in 2021.
In addition to playing for Monterey Bay F.C., Martinez is also a proud member of the El Salvador Men’s National Team. He returns to the campus of California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) where he finished his successful collegiate career for the Otters in 2019. Martinez has the opportunity to take advantage of his familiarity with the region as he steps to onto the pitch of the newly renovated, Cardinale Stadium.
“We are incredibly excited to bring Walmer back home to Monterey Bay for our inaugural season. His experience with both the El Salvador National Team and within the USL Championship will play an integral part of laying the foundation of our club,” said Monterey Bay F.C. President, Mike DiGiulio. “Walmer’s homecoming signifies the beginning of the Union as we continue to bring athletes here to make Monterey Bay their home.”
Sporting Director and Head Coach, Frank Yallop added “I’m thrilled to announce Walmer as Monterey Bay F.C.’s first player signing. It’s very important to have young, local athletes playing for our club. Hopefully this is the first of many local players joining Monterey Bay F.C.
“Walmer is a very talented young athlete and I’m very excited to begin working with him.”
A first-generation El Salvadorian born in Santa Cruz, California, and graduate of Soquel High School, Martinez began his impressive soccer career at Cabrillo College where he started in all 19 matches and led the Seahawks with 15 goals and five assists during his sophomore season. He then transferred to CSUMB where he finished second all-time in assists (16) and fifth all-time in goals (17). In his senior year alone, Martinez claimed the second-best attacking season in CSUMB Men’s Soccer history, recording 13 goals and 33 points.
After he graduated from CSUMB in 2019, he was invited to Hartford’s Invitation Combine in early 2021 where he performed well enough to earn his first professional contract with the club during preseason training. While at Hartford, Martinez was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week in the final week of the regular season for his performance against the Charleston Battery where he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory and completed 22 of 26 passes during the match.
Following his signing with Hartford, Martinez was selected by the El Salvador Men’s National Team for FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying during the summer. On June 5, 2021, Martinez made his debut for the country in a 7-0 win against the U.S. Virgin Islands. He scored his first goal for El Salvador three days later in a 3-0 victory against Antigua and Barbuda and has gone on to make 16 appearances for the side while recording two goals in the past year.
Martinez was selected for the El Salvador squad to play at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup and has also seen action in the final stage of FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifying, competing against the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“I’m so thrilled that Walmer has this opportunity to come home and continue his professional soccer journey. And I’m thankful that Monterey Bay F.C. continues to demonstrate such a strong commitment to our local area,” said CSUMB Athletic Director, Kirby Garry. “Walmer’s story is a shining example of CSUMB acting on our vision and mission of serving the success of local students.”
Martinez’s CSUMB accolades include: CoSIDA Academic All-American®, United Soccer Coaches All-Region, First team All-CCAA and 2019/20 CSUMB Male Athlete of the Year.
“There is nothing better than playing for a community who has seen me grow and develop; I’m glad to be coming home,” said Martinez. “I grew up playing soccer all throughout these local communities, they’ve seen my journey and followed my stages from playing as a young boy to playing in stadiums filled with thousands of fans. It’s the most amazing feeling to know that everyone who has followed and supported me will now be able to watch me play on my home turf for Monterey Bay F.C.”