TUKWILA, Wash. – Obafemi Martins has temporarily left the Seattle Sounders to receive treatment for an “aggravated tendon” in his knee and won’t be available for their next game.
The Designated Player initially suffered the injury while with the Nigerian national team last month, and aggravated it in last Saturday’s start against Real Salt Lake. Team doctors and trainers recommended that he sit out the entirety of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals against Santos Laguna, which conclude on Tuesday.
“He’s had this injury before and been treated by a doctor so we’ve let him go back to see that doctor and hopefully he’ll be back early next week,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said after Thursday’s training session. “We’ll be in communication. Hopefully whatever the guy did last time was able to resolve it [and] he’ll do it again.
“We figured now was a good window for him to do that and get that fixed. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go in time to play New England [on April 13].”
The Sounders would only say that Martins was receiving treatment outside Seattle. If Martins has indeed left the country, it would mark his fourth and fifth intercontinental flights since joining the Sounders last month.
Injuries and international duty have limited Martins to 82 minutes with the Sounders, who reportedly spent about $4 million to secure his move from Spain’s Levante.
His absence is just the latest personnel setback for a team that has yet to start the same group of players in any of their first seven matches across all competitions. No player has even started every match. Tuesday’s starting lineup, for instance, featured seven changes from the weekend.
Schmid was hopeful, however, that Eddie Johnson, who missed the first leg against Santos Laguna, would be able to return for the second leg.
“Obviously it’s a little bit frustrating but we have to work with the people that are here,” said Schmid, identifying DeAndre Yedlin, Alex Caskey, Shalrie Joseph and Brad Evans as players who have excelled in unanticipated roles. “I think some of the guys that have pushed into playing more minutes than anyone would have expected at the beginning have responded well. I think some of the changes we were forced into, guys did well.”