Seattle Sounders hope win over DC starts fruitful partnership for Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson
With Martins scoring a pair of goals and the duo combining well in the Sounders' 2-0 win over hapless D.C. United on Wednesday, there was at least some progress.
But there's also some sense that they are just scratching the surface of their potential.
"I think we're still a couple games away, at least a couple games away," said midfielder Brad Evans, who had the assist on Martins' first goal. "I'd rather the potential be there in five or six or seven games as we inch toward the playoffs, to have those guys get hot and playing off each other so well. It will come with time and it's only going to get better as long as we stay healthy and consistently having the same guys on the field will pay dividends as well."
Up until this game, the results had been much more mixed. This was the fourth game Johnson and Martins had started together, with the Sounders going winless and being outscored 8-1 in the previous three. Just as troublesome, the two prolific scorers had only combined for three shots in those games.
Johnson and Martins combined for three shots in this game alone, with all of them being on frame and generating quality chances.
Their best moment came on a sequence that didn't result in a goal. The duo worked a give-and-go near the top of the penalty area, but United goalkeeper Joe Willis alertly came off his line to save Johnson's shot.
Helping facilitate moments like that is clearly a major emphasis for the Sounders.
"We need to look forward, we need to see that ball into their feet when they’re one-v-one, when they’re isolated making that quick, explosive run to get behind," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. "It’s just a matter of getting that timing down."
One of the challenges will be figuring out how best to utilize two players who like to occupy similar space and have similar skill sets.
"That's part of the game, learning to play with each other and part of the fun of soccer for us on the outside to learn not just what Eddie wants and Oba wants, but what they need at the right time to play off each other," Evans said. "We'll still look at tape and discuss it as a team and figure out what they want."
Those problems have previously been enhanced by the lack of playing time together. Early on, it was Martins' injury that kept them part. More recently, it was Johnson's time with the United States national team.
All that appears to be in the past, at least for the immediate future.
"Those two guys will be dangerous," Evans said. "Once they form that bond that strikers do, and I think they will, it's going to be fun."