Thiago Martins | "I’m Ready To Shine In My Second Season."

Thiago Martins preseason

Thiago Martins says he is heading into the 2023 campaign refreshed, fit and full of confidence.

The Brazilian is entering his second season with New York City Football Club, having joined the Boys in Blue from Yokohama F. Marinos a little more than a year ago.

Fresh from netting twice in Wednesday’s preseason friendly draw with St. Louis City – the first brace of his career – the defender asserts he is ready to shine, armed with the knowledge and experience gained from his debut season in Bronx blue.

“I’m really happy to have scored two goals,” he declared. “It was the first time in all of my life!

“We work a lot to help out the attack with free-kicks, or corners. It’s a really good opportunity for us to help the team to score goals.

“It’s so important for any center-back. I have the opportunity when I go up for a free-kick, or corner… and I need to be alert every time, and attack the ball, attack the space, when we’re working in training every week, and help my team to score.

“I’m working for this. I saw [Alex] Callens do it last year. I know it’s important for me, and for the group too.

“This second year, now I understand the league, I can improve my style, how to play, and of course, I feel so comfortable. When I improve my style of soccer, I can help my team 100%.

“The first year is always hard. I came from Japan, which is so different with how to play. You need to understand the league, know the teams...

“The big difference from Japan is that we play a lot with the ball, we control the game. I’m a fast player, I can help the team when we press high, but here, the guys are more strong than fast.

“The first year, I had to improve my physicality, my power, and that’s the biggest difference for me – here, I need to fight more, compete more than in Japan.

“The second year helps me a lot. I know I have more confidence, more power inside the group, and I think I can help more this year.”

Head Coach Nick Cushing has highlighted Martins throughout preseason as one of the ‘senior leaders’ in his squad, alongside Maxime Chanot and Alfredo Morales.

Martins added he is thriving from the responsibility, and is both eager and proud to share the benefit of his experience with the rest of the squad.

“I’m a fast guy, I’m strong, I can help with leadership…” he continued. “Now I’m older, I have experience and I can help the guys: ‘Let’s go together, let’s work together, let’s do our best every time we wear this jersey.’

“Sometimes, I don’t need to talk – I need to do, I need to help – every time I wear this jersey, and I think it’s the most important this year.

“I will do my best to help all of my teammates because I know it’s hard when you have a big change from last year.

“With Maxime Chanot, he is a leader of this team. We always talk, every time we are playing together, and I know how important it is for him to get some experience here.

“We need these conversations and we know that if we are on the same page, we can help the young guys more.

“I want to help my teammates, the young guys, I want to help NYCFC to grow and to be a stronger team, so we can compete in every game, every time.”

NYCFC will kick off the 2023 MLS season on Feb. 25 when we visit Nashville SC at GEODIS Park (4:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).

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