collin martin vs impact montreal - 2013
Tony Quinn

Collin Martin: A talented homegrown just enjoying the journey

Collin Martin earned his first minutes in Major League Soccer Saturday night in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact. Martin, a Homegrown signing, entered the match in the 76th minute and notched an assist in extra time.

The 18-year-old certainly impressed in only 17 minutes of play. His maturity on the field reveals itself through his decision making and composure on the ball. And his maturity off the field is just as evident.

“It was a great moment for me, but that was just one night,” said Martin about his performance Saturday night. “But, I just go back to work—nothing is given to me.”

Martin graduated high school a year early to attend Wake Forest University. The talented midfielder scored one goal and notched six assists in his freshman year as a Demon Deacon.

“It’s funny. I’m sending off all my friends to college now,” said Martin. “So, all my high school friends are leaving now.”

It’s easy to forget, in speaking with Martin, that he should have just graduated from high school this June. And though he doesn’t play like an 18-year-old, the constant smile on his face is indicative of the fact that he is just playing the game he loves.

“I don’t know why I have been so happy recently, but I’ve just been enjoying myself a lot in training, just having a good time,” said Martin. “During the drills, I’m very serious and working hard, but after, I am talking to the players, just enjoying myself.”

Noting that he said “players” and not “teammates” shows he might not be used to the fact that he is a professional soccer player just yet. And in all fairness, it hasn’t even been a month since he signed with the Black-and-Red.

“It is surreal,” he said. “It’s still awesome to have people like Josh Wolff to learn from. Every time he talks to me, of course I am very attentive. I am really enjoying myself out there.”

While he is enjoying himself, he understands there is a long and tough road ahead. He has been told to get stronger and knows he still needs to prove himself in this league.

“Do I have a spot in the starting 11? No. Do I have a spot in the 18? No. I mean, working toward that is an obvious goal,” explained Martin. “Hopefully I’ve shown that I’m a good passer and I have good touches, but what it comes down to is if I work hard or not.”

Working hard shouldn’t be a problem for the youngster, stating that he planned to be in the gym two-three times a week if he is getting substantial playing time and three-four if he isn’t—saying that being able to get in that many workouts “would be great.”

But Martin isn’t limiting hard work to the field and the weight room. The should-be-college-sophomore wants to get his college degree.

“I am finishing up my application for GW [the George Washington University] now.” said Martin. “Hopefully I get in this semester, if not, then definitely next semester. I definitely am finishing, slowly but surely.”

Talking about individual goals, what his coaches expect of him and the pressures of the job begged the question: what does Collin Martin, the 18-year-old, do for fun?

“I love going to the pool. I love hiking,” he answered. “I don’t know—watching movies with friends. I like to eat a lot, so going out to get food with friends. Stuff like that.”

Martin said two of his friends were at Saturday’s match to watch him begin to make a name for himself and register his first MLS stat. After Jared Jeffrey broke up the Montreal attack at midfield, Collin picked up the loose ball and found Conor Doyle’s feet. Most watching were impressed with his composure, taking the time to realize Jeffrey, the option most obvious to onlookers, was offside.

“To be honest, I don’t really know what I was thinking,” Martin recalled of his assist. “It was more instinct. I kind of felt like there was another pass, so I just picked my head up and saw [Doyle].”

That instinct has brought him a long way. Martin has played for the U-20 national team, with his sights now on the U-23s, and was a standout for D.C. United’s Academy.

“He can make players better,” said Director of Youth Development Sonny Silooy. “For his age, that’s pretty special.”

But, Martin knows this exciting milestone is just a stepping stone.

“I just have to keep myself grounded and keep working,” he said.