VANCOUVER — Felipe Martins says his time with the Vancouver Whitecaps was a roller coaster.
The 28-year-old midfielder joined the club in 2018 after stints with the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls.
On Tuesday, the ‘Caps dealt Martins to D.C. United for a 2020 international roster spot and US$75,000 in targeted allocation money.
The Brazilian said his time in Vancouver started very well.
"I think I had a great first half of the season last year. And then some personal issues got me a little bit out of the road. I came back very excited (this year)," he said.
With a new coach at the helm and a roster full of new faces, Martins struggled to establish his role in the squad this year. He saw action in 18 games, but started in just 13.
"Of course, when you don’t play as consistent as you want, you kind of start to get doubts in your mind," he said Tuesday. "You don’t get the confidence you need every single day and every single game. But that’s part of football."
The decision to move Martins is about setting up the club for the future, said Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos.
The team needs a different profile of player in the midfield and though staff know they won’t be able to find that player during the current transfer window, which closes Wednesday, they’ll need the spot open when the next window opens in January.
"We said ‘OK, it’s going to hurt us today, but for the big picture of the club, looking at what we want to build, it’s the right decision.’ But it’s a hard one, because I like and I appreciate Felipe a lot," Dos Santos said.
Martins has a single goal this season, scoring the winner in Vancouver’s 2-1 road victory over FC Cincinnati on Saturday.
He was just settling into his role with the team when the trade came about, Dos Santos said.
"Felipe has value in the league, Felipe has value in (Major League Soccer). So it’s normal that a club like D.C. was interested in him," he said.
The Whitecaps hadn’t been looking to move the midfielder, Dos Santos added, saying that the trade came about very quickly, within about 24 hours.
Martins said he was at home Tuesday morning, getting ready to head to the field when he got the call saying he was being moved.
He was surprised by the decision but understands why it makes sense for the club long-term and is looking forward to joining D.C. United, a team that currently sits fourth in the Eastern Conference.
"I’m ready to get there, work hard, make the playoffs and make the D.C. United fans and the organization proud," Martins said.
D.C. United welcomed having the Brazilian’s MLS experience in its midfield.
"We’re excited to add his ability to connect the game and break lines with his passing, as well as his competitiveness and bite," GM Dave Kasper said in a statement.
Whitecaps fans haven’t seen the last of Martins this season, however. United will play the ‘Caps at B.C. Place on Aug. 17.
The game will be a "proper goodbye" to Vancouver fans, Martins said.
"But from this day on, I’m a D.C. United player. I’m going to come with the same intensity or even more, to give my all," he said.
The Whitecaps also added a winger from Honduras on Tuesday.
The club used targeted allocation money to get Michaell Chirinos on loan from Club Deportivo Olimpia for the rest of the 2019. The deal also includes an option for the ‘Caps to purchase his contract after the season.
The money was freed up when Vancouver parted ways with Brazilian winger Lucas Venuto last week.
Chirinos, 24, was most recently with Lobos BUAP of the Mexican league. He has six goals in 33 appearances with Lobos and 33 goals in 115 appearances with Olimpia.
Chirinos also has made 19 appearances for Honduras, including at the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this summer.
Dos Santos said he liked how the five-foot-five winger performed in the tournament.
"He has a lot of the tools that we want and that we want to see more," the coach said.
"Although he’s small, he’s stocky. He’s a stocky player, explosive, could play on the right or the left. â€¦ He’s a player that participates a lot in both sides of the game."
When Chirinos will see action with the Whitecaps remains unclear, though Dos Santos said he hopes to have him available for the Aug. 17 game against D.C. United.