SEATTLE – Obafemi Martins may be missing out on his second World Cup, but that doesn't mean he's spending any time sulking over it.
A few days after vowing to "play my own World Cup with the Seattle Sounders," Martins scored one of the early candidates for Goal of the Year to lead his team to a 1-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
"He's a world-class player," Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said about Martins. "And it was a goal we needed today."
Martins wasted little time in reminding the MLS world that Clint Dempsey isn't the only Sounders forward having an MVP-caliber season.
With the Sounders on the break in the eighth minute, Gonzalo Pineda looped a ball over the top of the defense. Martins then shielded defender Jordan Stewart, let the ball bounce once about five yards from the endline and hit a shot from a tight angle with his first touch. The ball floated gently into the side of the net, leaving Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch looking on in disbelief.
"That's an outstanding goal," Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said. "It's just an athletic ability you can't teach, it's just something that someone has. It's definitely as good as a goal that's been scored here."
The shot was so audacious that it actually looked like Martins may have been trying to send in a cross. The soft-spoken Nigerian put that notion to rest, however.
"I just want to score," said Martins with smile, adding he "can't wait" until he sees a replay of the goal. "It went in, so I'm glad."
Martins has been doing plenty of that this season. The goal was his fifth of the season to go along with his league-leading six assists. He is now tied with Dempsey for the most combined goals and assists (11) in MLS.
With Dempsey missing the first of at least four games due to World Cup responsibilities, Martins is being asked to play an even bigger role in the offense than he has in the past.
"He knows he's got to drop and find the ball a little more," Schmid said. "I thought Oba was fantastic tonight. He was busy, he was active. He put in a tremendous effort in terms of covering ground tonight.
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"I thought he was really motivated and played well. In his disappointment in not being selected, he's not walking around moping. He is going out there and showing, 'Hey, you made a mistake.' And that's good for us. What he did for Seattle tonight was fantastic."