Winning and backflips: It's a combination the Seattle Sounders could get used to.
The Sounders won their first league game of the season on Saturday, beating the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in Commerce City, Colo., behind Obafemi Martins’ first MLS goal, which he celebrated by performing one of his trademark backflips. It was Seattle’s seventh straight victory over the Rapids and their third straight at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“We're just happy to get the win,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously it's been bugging us for a while. To get a win on the road is always important. I think defensively we've played pretty consistently all season.”
Martins was a bit of a surprise starter, as he was one of only a handful of players who was limited during training this week and was listed as “questionable” on the injury report.
But with Eddie Johnson apparently re-injuring his hamstring in Friday’s training, Schmid leaned on Martins.
It turned out to be a fortuitous move.
Martins was able to give the Sounders 61 minutes, making the most of it with a goal in the 27th minute. Martins showed a poacher’s nose on the play, pouncing on a rebound from a Shalrie Joseph shot, taking a touch to create some space and stroking it inside the far post to beat Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
“He was a real trooper,” Schmid said of Martins. “At first, we didn't expect him to start this game, but then with the situation with Eddie Johnson when he went down on Friday, we said, 'Hey, you think you've got 45 minutes in you?' He said 'yeah,' so I said I was going to start him. He gave everything he had for as long as he could, and obviously scored a great goal.”
The win did not come so easily.
Although the Sounders probably had the better of the play in the first half, they had to hold on as the Colorado altitude took its toll in the second half. The Rapids hit the woodwork several times and just missed on several other chances.
“The most important thing is, we can figure out how to win different ways,” midfielder Brad Evans said. “There's things we can build on the positive side, but there's also things we can look at in the last 20-25 minutes, getting our legs, having some composure and controlling the game a little bit more.
“We have some work to do. We can win pretty or we can win ugly. The most important thing is to get the points and try to make a run.”