Player of the Week 3, Felipe Campanholi Martins is one of brightest spots in the start of 2016 MLS season for the New York Red Bulls. With two goals against Houston Dynamo, Felipe brought to his side the only victory of this early campaign but less well know that his career started in Padova, Italy where he also met his wife and made many friends. MLSsocceritalia.com interviewed him in New York, talking about Major League Soccer and beyond.
Red Bulls, Felipe Martins: “Italy is in my heart but MLS is the future”
Before the unfair ejection against New England, you were appointed “Player of the Week 3”
It was amazing. My first time in five year. I was very pleased and honoured about that.
Your goals led to the only win for the Red Bulls: did you expect such a tough start?
Our start of the season has been so undued but numbers don’t add up because we played good games, especially against Toronto. We paid for individual mistakes that we usually don’t make. Against Houston we had the strength to react and reach the win.
How is MLS changed since your arrival in Montreal?
When I made my way to the MLS there were already many big names. In Montreal I played with Nesta and Di Vaio but in five years things has better changed. New stadiums, new teams with professional mindsets. There is more attention in every way also by the media. We are followed in every area, stadiums are filled up with people and there is such a respect between players and fans. It’s wonderful to play here.
What does the league miss to achieve the final breakthrough?
Enviroment and travels are perfect, players only have to care about playing soccer. Sore point is the Salary Cap. Teams’ budget have to be increased to achieve many other international stars.
Your career started in Italy with Padova Calcio
Yes, my debut was in Coppa Italia against Reggiana and I played a total of four official matches in Lega Pro with Padova’s jersey. I felt really sorry to leave.
What’s your feeling with Italy?
My wife comes from Padova and my parents-in-law live there. We fly to Italy 3-4 weeks a year. I left many friends and teammate there, such as Falsini. Italy will always have a place in my heart.
With proper offering would you come back in our country? Where would you like to play?
Not right now, I think MLS suits better for my career. Soccer’s future is here. But never say never with soccer. If I had to pick one I’d take Genoa.
Where would New York Red Bulls finish in the Serie A this season?
Top-10 at least. I think that our intensity and our speed could give them some troubles.
Are Pirlo and other european stars in trouble with your game intensity?
Who comes in MLS has to adapt to our way to play soccer. We have hard training sessions and MLS’s speed is very high. In their careers I think they have never worked so hard during the week.
Some teammates to keep an eye on?
Well, I say Tyler Adams and Sean Davis. Tyler is really young, but you will hear a lot about him. He has right qualities to become a top player. Sean is a really good midfielder.
Who is your idol?
I’ve got several names to say, but Cafu is who I’ve always loved the most. He’s always been an example for me. He played gladly and seriously.
What’s your relationship with Kakà and Adriano?
I recently sent my signed jersey to Adriano. I’m pretty sure that he’ll come back to a good level in soccer. He’s still young and he wants to be a new football player. He’s super.