Obafemi Martins has a well-earned reputation as a goal-scorer that he has garnered by scoring at great rates in Italy, England, Germany, Russia and Spain.
Now, he is showing another dimension to his game as a master set-up man, leading Major League Soccer with six assists through his first 10 matches this season, helping Seattle stay atop the MLS standings as the top scoring team in the league. On Wednesday, he added two more assists as Seattle stormed back for a 2-1 win over FC Dallas.
"I think I've said it all season – he's a great player. He has good link-up play and good vision. He can score goals. He can put people in the right place," Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey said. "I thought he played really well tonight."
After struggling to break down the wall in the middle of the field set up by Dallas in the first half, Sounders FC shifted its focus to the wings in the second half and that's where Martins was able to create scoring chances for his teammates.
In the 62nd minute, he took the ball up the right side and sent a low cross to Lamar Neagle on a near-post run while Dempsey pulled two defenders toward the middle of the goal mouth, setting up the equalizer from Neagle.
Then in the 88th minute, Martins again pulled two defenders out to the left side and crossed it to Kenny Cooper on a run to sneak behind the Dallas defense for the game-winner.
"That's his unselfish play for the team," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "He'll run the channels. He'll post up when he needs to post up. He'll drop off and find the ball. He will chase and battle and fight for the ball. He has just been a great teammate this year. His assists are ones when he is on the ball in the final 20 yards of the field. If we can get him on the ball and if we can get Dempsey on the ball in the final 20 yards of the field, it's problems for the opponent."
Both Neagle and Cooper were quick to credit the Nigerian forward for creating their scoring chances on Wednesday, noting that he has the quality to make life easy for his teammates.
"It was a really great ball from Oba. He has so much quality and just great vision and really put it on a platter for me," Cooper said.
It's not just Martins though.
He has four goals to go with his six assists and Seattle has four players – Martins, Dempsey, Neagle and Cooper – with at least three goals each.
With Dempsey setting up his teammates and balls coming from the midfield tandem of Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda, Seattle has a multi-pronged attack with scoring threats all over the field and the players are more and more willing to do the extra work to get themselves into positions to score themselves or set up goals for their teammates.
"Those guys are on a different level passing," Neagle said. "I know if I make good runs then I'm going to get the ball."
That mentality has perpetuated throughout the team and when everyone from the superstars on down is on that page, it makes for an explosive team. And while Martins is always exuberant when he scores goals himself, he has shown a newfound enthusiasm toward setting up his teammates for goals.
To Martins, it's not anything extra he's doing. It's simply his job as a Sounder.
"I'm here to help score goals as a team," Martins said. "Today, in the second half we deserved to win because we kept going. We were losing and everything, but we just kept going. We knew we could get a point, but now we're happy with three."