SEATTLE — Obafemi Martins came to the Seattle Sounders to score goals.
So far, he’s proven to be a quality finisher, scoring six times in 13 MLS appearances. But he’s also shown an impressive ability to create opportunities for others, as he did in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA, when he had the first two-assist game of his MLS career. Martins now has three assists in his MLS career, which means he’s averaging .89 goals and assists per 90 minutes.
“I think he can set people up,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a part of his game that he’s certainly able to add as well. A player like that, you want him involved in goals.”
Both assists came in situations that showed a particularly unselfish side to Martins’ game.
On the first, Martins gathered a ball about 35 yards out. Despite having room to run at his defender, Martins spotted Brad Evans making a run from a deep position. Martins then put a perfectly weighted ball through three defenders, allowing Evans to run onto it without allowing Dan Kennedy to cut down the angle.
“It was a good battle of possession, some good passing and Oba found me slipping through the middle,” Evans said. “First time shot and luckily beat Kennedy.”
With another opportunity to take on a defender, Martins again chose to set up a teammate for a better look on his second assist. After receiving a ball down the right wing, Martins set up his defender with a quick feint and then sent the ball to the top of the penalty area to Mauro Rosales, who was able to get just enough of the ball to send it on to Lamar Neagle on the opposite wing.
Martins and Neagle helping set each other up is becoming a regular occurrence. The Sounders are now 4-0-1 in the four games Neagle and Martins have started at forward together, with the duo combining for four goals and four assists.
“Yeah, we’ve played together for a little while and we kind of know each other’s tendencies now,” Neagle said about Martins. “A couple of passes went astray but that’s always going to happen when we’re trying to pressure and get in behind.”