- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 24, 2008

D.C. United acquired Colombian defender Gonzalo Martinez.

The 32-year-old has played with Italian clubs Udinese, Napoli and Reggina and most recently started at Millonarios in Colombia’s first division. He has made 36 appearances for the Colombian national team and played for the team in 2002 and 2006 World Cup qualifying games.

“We are very pleased to have signed a versatile defender with tremendous pace who we feel will add stability and leadership to our defense,” United general manager Dave Kasper said. “Gonzalo’s experiences at the club level in Italy and South America and with the Colombian national team will be a great asset to our club.”

The 5-foot-10 central defender becomes the second big signing of the week for United. The four-time MLS champion added Argentine striker Franco Niell to the roster Tuesday. A team official said Martinez will arrive in the District this week and is expected to participate in the team’s first day of training Monday.

Martinez is the second Colombian to play for United. Henry Zambrano played in five games for the club in 2002. The most famous Colombian in the league is Red Bulls forward Juan Pablo Angel.

Martinez is a replacement for defender Bobby Boswell, whom the team traded to the Houston Dynamo last month, and likely will start in the middle of the back line with Bryan Namoff, Marc Burch and Devon McTavish.

Martinez converted a penalty for the Colombian team that beat the U.S. team — which included United midfielder Ben Olsen — in a penalty shootout in a Gold Cup match in 2000.

United begins its MLS season at the Kansas City Wizards on March 29, but Martinez likely will see his first action when United visits Harbour View in Jamaica in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup on March 12. The return game is at RFK Stadium on March 18.

Note — U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson of the Kansas City Wizards was granted a work permit yesterday, clearing the way for him to join Fulham FC in the English Premier League.

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