FRISCO, Texas – The new year is still a few days away but FC Dallas has already made its first forays into the transfer market as the club continues to build its roster for 2021. This week, the club announced the signings of Spanish defender José Antonio Martínez from SD Eibar as well as winger Jáder Obrian from Águilas Doradas in Colombia’s Categoría Primera A.
Martínez is a center back with experience in the first, second and third divisions in Spain. Although Dallas acquired him from SD Eibar, Martínez spent the last two seasons on loan with Granada CF where he helped the club gain automatic promotion to La Liga (Spain’s top league) in 2019. Last season, Martínez played 20 games in La Liga where he and Granada finished in seventh-place, earning a place in the UEFA Europe League qualifiers for the first time in the club’s history.
“Martínez is a player that we scouted playing with Granada and he caught our eyes with the quality of his game,” said FC Dallas Technical Director André Zanotta. “We felt that his enthusiasm was fantastic and with his quality he fits really well the style of play that Luchi (Gonzalez) wants to keep growing within our team. He comes from top academies like Sevilla and Barcelona, so very similar style that Luchi likes to play. He has very good passing, very good technique. He’s very good in the air. After watching several games and getting different reports on him, we decided we wanted to sign him.”
José Antonio Martínez playing for Barcelona B in Spain's Segunda División
With Reto Ziegler’s departure after three strong seasons in Dallas, the club wanted to add another ball-playing center back comfortable on the left side of central defense. Ziegler also captained FCD over the previous two campaigns, meaning any potential replacement would need to be a leader for the backline. For head coach Luchi Gonzalez, Martínez provides that, and more.
“He (Martínez) has the right profile in terms of (being) left-footed, he can organize the backline, he can control the high press, he controls the space in behind which isn’t easy to do,” Gonzalez said. “He reads the game well, he’s aware and reads pressure on the ball and the oppositions’ runs. He has the personality to command and direct the backline. With the ball, he’s very calm. He comes from a system of defenders who play with the ball and distribute…He’s a good leader by example and cares about his team and the jersey. He ticks all the boxes and we’re very lucky to have this opportunity for him to join us.
“We finished the season with Matt (Hedges) and Bressan starting, so we’re very lucky that we get to add another quality center back. It's fantastic because we need that depth and a complete roster. We can’t just depend on one player or two, we need the team. José adds to that and we’re also lucky to have Bressan sign for another season. We’re in a great place in terms of our center back options."
Another priority for Dallas was the addition of a winger or wide forward following the departures of Santiago Mosquera and Fafa Picault. For this need, FCD went to the Colombian top division and signed 25-year-old forward Jáder Obrian from Águilas Doradas.
“We’ve been following Jáder in the Colombian league, which is a league we follow very closely,” Zanotta said. “And Jáder was doing an outstanding job in the last couple of seasons. He’s the second-top goal scorer in the league while playing on the wing. He’s extremely fast and brings a lot of energy to our team and a lot of hard work. He helps offensively and defensively really well.”
“(Obrian) has tools that are very interesting to us,” Gonzalez added. “We want to improve in our output and efficiency. He’s a hunter, he’s scores goals. He wants to get in the box and on the end of crosses. He wants to score goals in different ways: runs in behind, combinations, on the dribble, so he has a good variation of ability. He also sets up teammates with crosses and by cutting inside and sending balls through. He’s an intelligent young player, he’s not just all speed. He’s aware and plays with his head up to be aware of his teammates and the opposition. There’s intelligence connected to that speed.”
Jáder Obrian celebrating with his former Águilas Doradas teammates
Fitting in off the field is often just as important as producing on it. And Zanotta and Gonzalez believe both their new signings match the culture they’re building behind the scenes.
“When we spoke to them, we felt really good about their quality as people,” Zanotta said. “We felt they were really into the project and wanted to come to MLS because they believe in the growth of MLS and what we can offer at FC Dallas. All the information we got from former coaches and teammates were extremely positive and so we were very sure about bringing in a player of their quality on and off the field.”