Are Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins the best forward tandem in MLS? In Seattle they sure think so
SEATTLE — The debate over Major League Soccer’s best forward tandem should be a lot closer to a consesus now.
Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins once again led the Seattle Sounders to a high-flying result, this time combining for three goals in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. Dempsey added two goals to his league-leading total of eight, while Martins scored his third goal of the season. The two forwards have now combined for 11 goals and seven assists through the season’s first eight matches.
“I think it’s team confidence and getting in a good rhythm of play and buidling off of that,” Dempsey told reporters following his seventh straight regular-season match with a goal or an assist. “You can see that the link-up play is really good in the whole team. We’re creating opportunities for each other. It’s not just me and Oba, other players are making a difference and getting into good spots.”
Perhaps the most important moment of this win was a perfect example of what Dempsey was speaking to. With the score tied 0-0 just as the first half moved into stoppage time, Martins put Dempsey in with a beautifully weighted through ball. Dempsey was able to get behind the defense and beat Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin to the ball.
Dempsey rounded Irwin with his first touch and then sent in a shot from a tight angle. Although Rapids defender Drew Moor was able to catch up to the play and keep the ball out of the net, his block fell right to feet of Lamar Neagle, who was alertly trailing the play. Neagle buried the shot for a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
The Sounders followed that up with a pair of goals within the first seven minutes of the second half, both from Dempsey. Martins closed out the scoring with a 75th minute strike to put the match away.
“We’ve been having fun,” said Martins, who now has scored in two straight. “We’ve been passing the ball to each other, him scoring, me scoring and Lamar as well. I think it’s good. We’re in shape, so we’re happy.”
The theme of “fun” was a recurring one in the Sounders’ locker room. Sparked by the clever interchanges between Martins and Dempsey, the Sounders were flying high throughout the match and ended up with a franchise record 13 shots on frame.
“They do it practice so I’ve seen it quite a lot and it’s still fun to watch,” Sounders left back Dylan Remick said. “I don’t want to be the other teams’ defenders because I know how embrassing those two can make everybody on the field feel. It’s cool. They have such good chemistry right now.”
“Right now Dempsey and Martins are as good as it gets in our league,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.