On Friday last week, Sigi Schmid marveled at how quickly Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey were able to get back on the same page during Sounders FC training. Dempsey had been gone for nearly two months with the U.S. National Team and Martins himself had been limited of late due to a hamstring strain. But they were like kids on the first day of summer when they were reunited at Starfire.
On the field Sunday against the Portland Timbers, the fans at CenturyLink Field experienced that same joy as Martins entered the match as a substitute in the 51st minute. The vibrant Seattle strike pair took control of the game from that point on, and it was just a matter of time before Seattle took a 2-0 lead and earned its 12th victory of the season.
“It was fun. Playing with Oba is like playing pickup. We just look for each other. We see the game the same. We like to link up and make those passes that create space for each other so that we can create chances for each other to get looks in front of goal,” Dempsey said. “I really enjoy playing with him. He’s a great player and he has had a great career and he continues to play well.”
Things started to turn for the Seattle offense at the start of the second half, but once Martins took the field, Portland had no answer for the dynamic attacking play for Sounders FC. Over the course of 39 minutes when Martins was on the field, Seattle outshot Portland 16-3 and scored both goals to pick up the win.
Martins had just one of those shots, but the opportunities he created for Dempsey changed the returning U.S. National Team captain’s ability to affect the match. He attempted five shots in a 16-minute span and netted the first goal of the match in the 71st minute.
“Seeing Oba and his quickness really helped us, as well. It put more pressure on the back,” Schmid said after the match. “I thought the second half for us was pretty much our game. It was great to have those guys back.”
Dempsey’s goal was his ninth of the season in just 10 matches, while Martins has eight goals and is tied for the team-lead with six assists.
Their partnership has entertained Seattle fans all season. However, those in the stands and watching from home aren’t alone. In matches like Sunday, even Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei took the time to acknowledge the high level reached by Sounders FC’s forwards.
“They’re so dangerous. They are weapons that no opponent wants to have to face,” Frei said. “I’m glad they’re on my team and not the other team.”