Seattle’s scoring record to start the season has not been impressive. With just one goal through the first three games, Sounders FC got a boost of confidence on Thursday when Obafemi Martins participated in his first training session with the club, with he and Eddie Johnson both returning from international duty ahead of Seattle’s road match against Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
The addition of Martins alongside the top returning scorer Eddie Johnson gives Seattle two highly potent forwards to add to their dangerous midfield, which will also be bolstered this week by the returns of Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph from injuries and the potential return of Mario Martinez from international duty.
The three national team standouts alone have head coach Sigi Schmid excited at the prospects ahead.
“There’s quality there. That’s why they play for their various national teams,” Schmid said. “All of them are important pieces to the puzzle, but of course we need to get everything sorted away and then give that group some time to play together.”
Martins scored 106 goals in 12 seasons in top leagues in Europe before coming to the Sounders on March 15. He played 20 minutes in a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on March 16 before heading to Nigeria to play a World Cup Qualifier.
He flew back to Seattle on Tuesday after Nigeria’s 1-1 draw with Kenya on Saturday and took part in his first training session with the Sounders on Thursday after the team had a day off on Wednesday. After training, he said the he is ready to play in any capacity that Schmid envisions him playing in against Salt Lake on Saturday.
“I’m a soccer player. If the manager says go and play, I have no choice but to play,” he smiled after training. “I’m ready to go.”
In the meantime, he is working to learn the tendencies of his new teammates. That included one training session on Thursday and another on Friday before the Sounders head to Utah.
With his 12 seasons in Europe, he brings plenty of experience, playing with Inter Milan in Italy, Newcastle United in England, Wolfsburg in Germany, Rubin Kazan in Russia and Levante in Spain.
“He’s played in all of the big leagues in the world and brings a ton of experience,” said Johnson, who played in both US World Cup qualifying matches last week. “As quickly as we can we need to try and connect, to get an understanding where he likes to move and try to complement his movement on the field.”
Added midfielder Steve Zakuani, “Good players can always figure out a way to play together. Always. They just know the right movements, the right runs, then it’s just about execution.”
The Sounders will vie for their first win of the season on Saturday night at 6 pm PT from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The match will be televised live on KONG 6/16, with radio coverage on KIRO Radio 97.3 and the live blog on SoundersFC.com.