COLUMBUS — Columbus Crew SC today announced that the club has signed midfielder Abuchi Obinwa (pronounced: ah-BOO-chi oh-BIN-wah) and has acquired Panamanian midfielder Cristian Martinez (pronounced: KRIS-tee-ahn) on a permanent transfer following his initial 2016 loan to Columbus from Chorrillo FC of Panama’s First Division. Born in Columbus, Obinwa, 20, joins the team after having last played for German side Hannover 96 in the Under-19 Bundesliga North/Northeast. Martinez, 19, played for the Black & Gold during the 2016 Major League Soccer season on loan and will continue to occupy an international roster spot for Crew SC.
“We are excited to work with Abuchi and Cristian this year as they continue to develop as young players with potential,” said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “We look forward to tracking their progress in their first preseason camps with us.”
Prior to joining Hannover 96, Obinwa spent time with the Chicago Magic PSG, an affiliate club of French side Paris St. Germain. In 2013, he was invited to Paris to train with the Paris Saint-Germain youth academy. That same year, Obinwa traveled with the adidas International Training Program for a friendly match against the Real Madrid youth academy. He was named the 2013 U.S. Soccer Development Academy’s U-15/16 Central Conference Player of the Year.
A Columbus native, Obinwa joins former youth national teammate Ben Swanson, whom he knows from their time together representing the United States at the youth level. Obinwa was named to the U-18 roster that participated in the 20th Lisbon International Tournament in Portugal in 2014, where he played in all three group-stage matches. He was also a member of the United States Under-20 squad’s 23-player roster that participated in the 2015 Stevan Vilotic-Cele Tournament in Serbia, where he made two appearances.
Martinez joined Crew SC on loan on May 17, 2016, making his club and MLS debut on June 1 in an away match against the Philadelphia Union, an appearance in which he later scored a goal to become the youngest Black & Gold player to ever score in a regular-season match. The 19-year-old midfielder went on to make seven appearances (four starts) for Crew SC during the 2016 season.
Prior to joining Crew SC, Martinez played for Chorrillo FC of the Liga Panameña de Fútbol – Panama’s topflight – where he graduated from the club’s youth academy before making his debut appearance for the senior squad at the age of 15. At the international level, Martinez has experience with the Panama National Team, having earned two caps with the senior squad in 2016. Martinez made his debut with the senior team on February 18, of that year, coming on as a substitute in a 1-0 victory against El Salvador.
Under Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter, the club is currently in Sao Paulo, Brazil for its first preseason camp. Crew SC is slated to remain in Brazil through February 9 before returning to Columbus. The team will be in Central Ohio at SuperKick in Powell from February 13 – February 15 for the second camp of preseason. Following the time in Ohio, the club travels to Charleston, South Carolina to participate in the 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup. More information on Season Ticket Memberships for the 2017 season at MAPFRE Stadium is available at columbuscrewsc.com.
Columbus Crew SC signs midfielder Abuchi Obinwa and acquires midfielder Cristian Martinez on a permanent transfer, following a 2016 loan from Chorillo FC, on January 25, 2017. Martinez will continue to occupy an international roster spot.
Name: Abuchi Obinwa (pronounced: ah-BOO-chi oh-BIN-wah)
Born: January 15, 1997 in Columbus, OH
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Citizenship: United States, Nigeria
Acquired: Signed on January 25, 2017.
Previous Experience: Hannover 96 (2014-2016)
Name: Cristian Martinez
Born: February 6, 1997 in El Chorrillo, Panama City, Panama
Hometown: El Chorrillo, Panama City, Panama
Acquired: Originally arrived on loan from Chorillo FC on May 17, 2016 and was acquired on a permanent transfer on January 25, 2017.
Previous Experience: Columbus Crew SC (2016), Chorrillo FC (2012-2016)