Earlier this week, Obafemi Martins said he was going to treat the Sounders FC schedule as his World Cup after he was left off the roster for Nigeria.
On Saturday night in front of 49,746 fans at CenturyLink Field, Martins showed what he meant with one of the more astonishing goals scored in Seattle's Major League Soccer history in the 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
In the eighth minute, Gonzalo Pineda led Martins up the left side into the box with a bouncing ball that Martins met at the edge of the six-yard box with San Jose defender Jordan Stewart on his shoulder. Without even taking a momentary glance to see goalkeeper Jon Busch covering the near post, Martins hit a first-time chip toward the far post and it curled into the inside of the upright for his fifth goal of the season, leaving Busch flabbergasted and the season record crowd in a frenzy.
"That's an outstanding goal," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "The guile that he has to just get a touch on it and get it over Busch...you can't teach that. It's definitely as good a goal as has been scored here."
Schmid wasn't alone in praising the surprising shot that proved to be the only goal Seattle would need as the defense held stout for its first shutout since March 23.
Chad Marshall is in his 11th MLS season and has seen what the league has to offer, but even he was left in wonderment.
"I don't know a lot of other people in the league that can pull that off," Marshall said.
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei was asked how to defend a shot like that and he simply shrugged his shoulders and instead offered applause to Martins.
"He just finds a way. That's the kind of player Oba is," Frei said. "Great quality and not afraid to try something like that."
Lamar Neagle was the last of Seattle's attacking players to reach Martins after the goal, looking in awe at his teammate. After the match, he was still left speechless.
"You can't really say anything," he smiled. "It was amazing."
On the other side of the play, Busch himself was humbled by the effort in an otherwise stellar game that saw the San Jose goalkeeper finish with five saves in defeat.
"You tip your cap to him. That's a big time finish from that angle. The only place you expect him to put it is at the near post. That's the only angle he's got and he finds the back post. You tip your hat to him because there's nothing you can do. Doesn't matter who you are or where you play, that's a good goal," he said. "He's a world class forward and he proved it tonight on that one."
The goal came at a great time for Seattle, who was coming off of a 5-0 defeat to the New England Revolution last week and was playing without offensive catalyst Clint Dempsey and two other vital players in Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin, who are all away with the U.S. National Team in training camp to prepare for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
That loss weighed on the mind of Martins and his teammates, particularly since it halted a five-game winning streak for Seattle.
"The important thing is the three points. We'd been doing well, then on Sunday we conceded five goals, but we weren't down," Martins said. "We couldn't wait for this game that we played and I'm happy that we got the three points."
Martins, who now has five goals to go with his league-leading six assists, left the praise and analysis of his remarkable goal to others, but when asked if he was looking forward to seeing a replay of the highlight, he offered a simple response that spoke volumes about how it ranks in his all-time scoring list.
"Can't wait," he beamed.