NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville SC announced Friday the signing of goalkeeper Ben Martino to a homegrown deal after acquiring his homegrown priority from the Philadelphia Union. From the press release:
Nashville Soccer Club announced today it has signed Philadelphia Union Academy product Ben Martino to a homegrown deal and acquired Martino’s homegrown priority, in exchange for $50,000 in 2024 General Allocation Money (GAM). Nashville SC could send an additional $100,000 in GAM should certain performance-based incentives be met. Philadelphia does retain a percentage of any sell-on fee.
Martino made his USL Championship debut with the Philadelphia Union II as an Academy player at the age of 17 in July of 2020, and went into participating in three matches. He then spent the last two seasons as the starting goalkeeper for Virginia Tech at the collegiate level. In his first season with the Hokies, Martino appeared in 18 matches with five clean sheets and an outstanding 1.23 goals against average. This past season Martino became the team’s captain as he continued his prowess in net with 16 appearances and .711 save percentage.
Nashville needed a third goalkeeper, with Joe Willis and Elliot Panicco likely to battle for the number one role in preseason training camp. Nashville have typically drafted a third-string goalie in the SuperDraft, but signing Martino as a homegrown player allows them to stash him in spots 29-30 on their roster, solely reserved for homegrown signings. In the convoluted world of MLS roster rules, it essentially opens up an extra spot on their roster, giving them full flexibility to sign more senior players.
With Panicco and Willis ahead of him, Martino is a likely candidate to see time with Huntsville City FC in MLS NEXT Pro this season.