TUKWILA, Wash. — The transition to MLS has been a bit rockier than Mario Martínez probably expected.
Despite an impressive international resume with Honduras, the 23-year-old has found scant playing time with the Seattle Sounders since signing in early August.
Following another match spent watching from the bench on Sunday, Martínez let his frustration show in a since-deleted Tweet that basically said he was reconsidering his plans with the Sounders.
In talking to reporters through a translator on Monday at training, Martínez walked back the veracity of his statements but admitted the situation in Seattle has not gone as planned.
“Yes, I was unhappy with being unable to play,” Martínez said. “But I also want you to understand that I’m happy with the team. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of good players and I have to wait for my opportunity. Sometimes when you come from another country, you try to help the team. That’s what I’m waiting to do.”
When asked about his reaction to Martínez’s online outburst, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid only said, “We’ll sort that out. Me and Mario are going to talk.”
While publicly declaring his frustration may not have been how the Sounders would prefer that Martínez handle the situation, it’s not hard to see where he’s coming from.
In the last four months, Martínez has established himself as one of the rising international stars in CONCACAF. He’s helped lead Honduras to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Summer Olympics and, more recently, has established himself as a fixture on the senior national team.
It was a little more than a week ago that Martínez scored a pair of goals and helped set up three more as Honduras destroyed Canada 8-1 to punch their ticket into the final round of World Cup qualifying.
In almost three months with the Sounders, he’s barely managed to get on the field. He has just three substitute appearances and logged a total of 40 minutes in league play. His most extensive time has been in CONCACAF Champions League, where he’s started twice and has an assist.
“I was coming with the hope and expectation to play,” Martínez said. “It’s a new team and a new league, a new atmosphere. When you’re new you have to wait for your opportunity and take advantage when it gets there.”
Ironically, Martínez’s success with the national team has probably hurt his ability to earn more playing time with the Sounders. Between two separate call-ups and two international trips with the Sounders, he rarely has been able to practice for a lengthy uninterrupted stretch.
“Coming in at midseason is a little bit harder,” Schmid said last week. “For him, positionally, we have some options as well. It’s why we let him go early to Honduras. We want him to get those games.”
Keeping in mind that this was all said prior to these recent developments, Schmid last week sounded optimistic about Martínez’s future. The Sounders play Marathón on Wednesday in their CCL group-stage finale, and then the LA Galaxy on Sunday in their regular-season finale, two games where Martínez seemed likely to feature.
“He’s a guy we’re going to need as we head into the playoffs,” Schmid said last week. “He gives us an option off the bench or into the starting lineup. He’s a good passer, he combines well. He’s a player, as he gets more and more used to the league and our team, he’ll just become better and better.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.