Luís Martins is one of the most experienced players for Whitecaps FC.
He came through the academy at Benfica, and made his debut as an 18-year-old in the UEFA Champions League.
He represented his native Portugal at every youth level, from U-16, to U-17, U-18, U-19, U-20, and U-21.
And he helped Sporting Kansas City compete at the top of the MLS Western Conference, starting 35 of their 36 matches in his last year, including two playoff matches.
However after leaving SKC following the 2021 MLS season, he wasn’t sure where his career would take him next.
“It was a tough period for me. I was trying to figure out what my future was going to be, waiting on some stuff from Europe too. I declined some [options] at the beginning of January to wait for something better.”
While he trained individually to stay fit, he was still without a club heading into May.
That was when he signed with the ‘Caps.
“Time flies,” remembers Martins. “I was glad that a club like Vancouver came for me and I’ll give everything I have to the team.”
Martins joined the ‘Caps two months into the MLS season.
It didn’t take long for the left back to integrate with his teammates. In fact, he quickly found a common Portuguese bond with… a Scotsman?
That was the case with Ryan Gauld.
“We have a connection because we both speak Portuguese from his time playing in Portugal,” tells Martins. “So we speak a lot.”
That connection became evident for fans to see late in the season, when Martins and Gauld combined to set up goals from the left wing in three straight home wins.
"Besides our language that we can understand, our football – or soccer – language is the same,” explained Martins. “We share the same way to see football.”
GOAL: Pedro Vite, Vancouver Whitecaps - 68th minute
After signing a new contract this offseason, Martins is looking forward to having a full preseason with the team heading into the 2023 season.
“It's very helpful for me to be settled on one place, to be at a club that wants you is even better. I have the confidence from the club, the players. That’s good for me. That’s what a player wants at this stage of their career, that stability. As an experienced guy I can help the team outside the field as well. I’m here to help as much as I can on and off the field.”
"We have the pieces, we just need to put them together and go for something bigger"
And what he sees for the team is even greater potential.
“I think what I’ve been seeing since I came here, we have the potential to be a playoff contender for sure. I think that needs to be our principal, main objective going into next season. But we don’t need to be restricted just to make the playoffs. I think the group can do much better than that. I think we have the pieces, we just need to put them together and go for something bigger.”