Ahead of the U-20 CONCACAF Championship in Costa Rica, MLSsoccer.com contributor Will Parchman penned his preview of the tournament and what to watch within it's competition. Crew SC midfielder Cristian Martinez — entering his second season with the Black & Gold after seeing his 2016 loan turn permanent last month — was called up by Panama and is currently with the U-20 national team.
Kicking off this Friday, the U-20 CONCACAF Championship will decide the qualifiers for the U-20 World Cup in South Korea later this year. To qualify out of CONCACAF, teams must finish in the top two of their initial four-team group, and then finish in the top two of a final three-team group. The first-place finishers of those two final groups will then face off for the title — despite having already qualified alongside two others.
Parchman projects Martinez as one of the top Four MLS Players to Watch and he goes on to project Panama as one of the qualifiers for the World Cup in South Korea.
Cristian Martinez, MF, Columbus Crew SC (Panama): Martinez is young, but Crew fans already have something of an attachment. The skilled midfielder scored in his Crew SC debut last year, and at 19 he became the youngest goal-scorer in franchise history. Martinez has already been capped by the full Panamanian national team, and the US will see him in the group stage. As a pinching winger with skill for days, Martinez is a handful in one-on-one situations and should be one of the most exciting players in the tournament.
Check out Parchman's full story here.