When the Sounders FC returned to Starfire for training on Thursday, they had forward Obafemi Martins waiting.
The high-powered forward rejoined the team in training and was optimistic about the progress on his injured knee, but will not be playing on Saturday when the Seattle hosts the New England Revolution in the Sounders FC’s return to MLS play.
“My knee is getting much better. I haven’t been doing anything since last week, so I hope to get better soon,” Martins said after his training session. “Trust me. I want to do everything right now. I have to be patient, try and sort it out and try to join the team as soon as possible.”
Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid ruled him out of Saturday’s match in a radio interview on Sportsradio KJR in Seattle, but his recovery could have him ready soon as the Sounders have the Colorado Rapids on the schedule on April 20.
His knee injury is one that he has experienced before and it isn’t one that he expects to put him on the shelf for long.
“This injury’s not new. I’ve been playing with it. When it gets sore like this, I have to take my time to take care of it,” Martins said.
Fortunately for Schmid and the Sounders, they were able to uncover another option to fill the void until he is able to make a full return while in Mexico for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series with Santos Laguna, as Steve Zakuani started up top with Eddie Johnson and spent the entirety of his 76 minutes actively stretching the Santos defense with his speed.
While his finishing left a little to be desired, the promise of his speedy play put on display a new dynamic that Schmid could use in the attack.
“There were a couple of times I wish I was a little bit sharper, but I think the overall play was pretty good,” Zakuani said. “The finishing part, I’m never worried about because eventually it comes and once the first one goes in, it’s going to be a lot easier and a lot more natural.”
Although it wasn’t his most natural position on the left wing, Zakuani has spent enough time swapping sides with his opposite wing that playing as a forward wasn’t a completely foreign position for him.
In the end, he had two shots and the one that he put on frame resulted in Lamar Neagle's goal. He was also able to use his speed to get in the box in spots closer to goal than he could playing on the left wing.
“I was trying to find spaces and be dangerous in a different way. It gets me closer to the goal a lot more. It was the game where I’ve had the most chances I’ve had this year,” Zakuani said. “Wherever they want me to play. I think we’re just trying to figure out the best way to use the players we have and get ourselves going.”