After a busy year, Martins feeling rejuvenated

The Nigerian forward had little time to rest in 2013 but coming into the new season, he feels ready to go.

After over 13 months without much time off, Obafemi Martins was in need of an offseason.

Now, after over two months away from the field, the Nigerian striker was back in training camp with Sounders FC on Saturday and was rejuvenated for the new season ahead.

“It’s good to have a break,” Martins said after the first of two training sessions on Saturday. “I think I’ve been playing for about a year, so it’s good to have a rest and then come in today and start with the players.”

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Martins started his whirlwind schedule in September of 2012 with Levante in Spain’s La Liga. After nine goals in 27 matches across all competitions, he left for Seattle, where he came off the bench in a match against the Portland Timbers just over 24 hours after landing on a flight from Spain. He then returned across the Atlantic to play internationally for Nigeria.

Once he returned to form after a knee injury he picked up during that stretch, he bolstered the Seattle attack with eight goals and four assists in 20 matches in what ended up being a start and stop season that saw him miss time on three other occasions because of injury.

A full preseason with the team appears to be just what he needed, though.

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“I think it’s much better this season that I will start fresh with the team,” he said. “To me, I think preseason is very important. With that, I have to adapt to playing alongside my teammates. We’re ready to go.”

That feeling was reciprocated in Seattle’s camp, as the club built the team around an attack that will include Martins and Clint Dempsey for a full season.

“It was good to have Oba in training. He felt pretty rejuvenated. He took advantage of his break,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s excited and we’re excited about having him back.”

With Dempsey away on loan to Fulham until the start of the regular season, Martins will be working a lot with a familiar teammate in Lamar Neagle, but also several new faces like Kenny Cooper as Seattle fields a restructured team after a slew of offseason changes to the roster.

Adapting to new teammates won’t be a problem for Martins though. In his 13 career professional seasons, he has played with eight different clubs, including giants Inter Milan and Newcastle United.

“It’s easier for me to play alongside the other strikers,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes with the new strikers. I hope we’re going to play well together.”

Just how they play together will be determined over the next six weeks of preseason before Seattle opens the season at CenturyLink Field on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City.

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