Within a short seven-month span, Fidel Martínez has gone from relegation-ready to becoming the creative linchpin of the league-leading Pumas UNAM attack. The 25-year-old Ecuadorian forward – who made the move to the Mexican capital from Leones Negros back in May – was vital to Pumas’ potent three-pronged scoring force, which ended the season with an outrageous 37 goals in just 17 Apertura matches. Above and beyond his four-goal tally and creative moments of individual magic like this and this, Fidel dished out seven assists, enough to earn him accolades for best passer in Liga MX action (beating out Silvio Romero with six and Hernán Darío Burbano and Elías Hernández with five).
Fidel has flourished playing down the left alongside Eduardo Herrera, Ismael Sosa, and a floating Matias Britos, and it shows; Pumas’ offensive output simply speaks for itself. The blossoming club hero’s fine run of form extends beyond his club play and into national team duties too, where he’s been absolutely destroying it for La Tri in World Cup qualifiers – ICYMI, he scored the game winner against Uruguay and the opener vs. Venezuela.
Here’s a glimpse of what this guy brings to the table (the Pumas-led table, to be sure). This goal and assist are things of beauty, regardless of the fact that they came against bottom-of-the-table Dorados de Sinaloa.
After tying Club América 1-1 in the Clásico capitalino, Pumas ended the season with 35 points over 17 games, enough to give the side a first-place finish and a birth in next year’s Copa Libertadores.
For now, priority number one will be La Liguilla. Fidel and company will face eighth-placed Veracruz in the quarterfinals of the Apertura on Thursday. The matchups are as follows:
1. Pumas vs. 8. Veracruz (Thursday and Sunday)
2. Toluca vs. 7. Puebla (Thursday and Sunday)
3. León vs. 6. América (Wednesday and Saturday)
4. Chiapas vs. 5. Tigres (Wednesday and Saturday)