Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid credits Obafemi Martins' "unselfish play" for glut of assists
SEATTLE — Throughout his prolific career, Obafemi Martins has always been known as a goalscorer.
This season with the Seattle Sounders, he’s continuing to show that his game is considerably more well-rounded.
Although Martins saw his scoring streak end at three games, he picked up two more assists to take his league-leading total to six while pacing the Sounders to a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on Wednesday. Martins set up Lamar Neagle for the equalizer and then found Kenny Cooper for the game-winner in the 88th minute, allowing Seattle to register their fourth come-from-behind victory of the season.
"I'm here to help score goals as a team,” Martins said. “Today, in the second half we deserved to win because we kept going. We were losing and everything, but we just kept going. We knew we could get a point, but now we're happy with three."
Martins was a major reason why.
Despite not registering a single shot, he managed to stay involved throughout the match by dropping back into the midfield, tracking back on defense and drifting into wide positions.
“It’s not so much his playmaking ability, but it’s his unselfish play for the team,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’ll run the channels, he’ll post up when he needs to post up, he’ll drop off and find the ball, if he loses the ball in the midfield he’ll chase and battle to win it back. He’s just been a great teamamte this year.”
Both of his assists were products of that kind of hard work.
His first came in the 62nd minute when Martins got the ball on the right wing at the edge of the penalty area, took a couple dribbles and then split a pair of defenders with a pass toward the near post where Lamar Neagle was making a late run. Neagle finished it easily.
It was more of the same on the game-winner. Martins got the ball on the left wing, dribbled through a couple defenders and then fired in a low cross where Cooper had gotten behind the defense and was all alone in front of the goal.
“No matter what I’m going to make good runs and Oba finds everybody,” Neagle said. “That’s what happened with Kenny, that’s what happened with me. We have confidence in our guys’ passing, especially [Martins and Clint Dempsey]. I know if I just make good runs, they are going to find me.”
This was the player the Sounders were hoping to get last season when they brought him over in a contentious transfer from Spain. Martins performed well enough — scoring eight goals — but struggled to stay healthy down the stretch as his heavy workload took its toll.
Fit and rested, Martins is showing a completeness that wasn’t always apparent a year ago.
“I don’t know why, I don’t really care, just as long as he keeps doing this,” Seattle captain Brad Evans said. “Both of these guys [Dempsey and Martins] are just a different class right now.”