Martins joins Sounders with huge amount of experience

The Nigerian forward, a veteran of Europe's top leagues will come to Seattle looking to get the club over the MLS Cup hump.

At the Sounders FC’s annual business meeting in December, owner Joe Roth vowed that the club would seek out their Robbie Keane – the type of player that could boost Seattle over the top the way Keane has the last two years with the LA Galaxy. The type of player that can elevate the club from MLS contenders to favorites to win MLS Cup. The type of player that will have Sounders fans doing backflips.

Well, if Obafemi Martins can match his record with Inter Milan, Newcastle United, Wolfsburg, Rubin Kazan and Levante, there will be plenty of backflips at CenturyLink Field as the Sounders FC’s latest acquisition performs his signature goal celebration.

“He’s a player who has been able to score goals in some of the toughest leagues in the world,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Now if he can bring that talent here – he’s fast, he’s left-footed, he’s got some explosion to him – I think the crowd will enjoy him.”

The Sounders announced the signing of Martins, 28, on Friday as they prepare to meet the Portland Timbers in the second match of the MLS season on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.

Martins had a stellar career in Europe, setting ablaze the top leagues in Italy, England, Germany and Russia before landing in Spain last year, where he led Levante in scoring and powered them to the Europa League Round of 16 before departing for Seattle this week.

He started his pro career at third-division Italian side Reggiana, but that stay didn’t last long and he was quickly snatched up by Internazionale in Milan. There, he spent two seasons being groomed to act as strike partner for Italian forward Christian Vieri. In the 2003-2004 season, he burst onto the scene with seven goals in league play and 11 across all competitions. He climbed the ladder the following season, netting 11 goals in Serie A, six in Copa Italia and five more in Champions League for 22 across all competitions. In his final season in 2005-2006, he helped Inter to the Serie A crown – their first in 17 years.

Then he jumped to the English Premier League and Newcastle United, where he continued his scoring prowess with seasons of 11 goals in 2006-2007, nine goals in 2007-2008 and eight goals in 2008-2009, sharing the scoring spotlight with Michael Owen.

From there, he jumped to Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga, Rubin Kazan in the Russian Premier League, then Levante in Spain’s La Liga.

Martins becomes the Sounders FC’s third Designated Player on the roster, along with midfielders Mauro Rosales and Shalrie Joseph. He is the eighth Designated Player in club history.

Now in Seattle, he joins forward Eddie Johnson to become a lethal strike pair as the Sounders move to obtain the thus-far elusive goal of an MLS Cup title.

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