SEATTLE – Obafemi Martins is back, Nelson Valdez and Roman Torres are here, and if the Seattle Sounders’ performance in their 4-0 blowout of Orlando City SC on Sunday afternoon is any indication, their season could very well be back on track.
Coming into Sunday, the Sounders were mired in a severe offensive drought that saw them score just two goals since July 3, a stretch that also saw the Rave Green lose eight of nine matches and fall to sixth in the Western Conference standings.
The floodgates opened at long last on Sunday, with Martins and the freshly acquired Valdez combining for three of their team’s four goals.
“Welcome to the last ten games of the season,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said following the game. “Hopefully it’ll be more like the first ten.”
The Sounders were the more energetic side from the outset on Sunday, jumping ahead in just the 17th minute after Martins -- making his return to the lineup after missing nine games with a groin injury -- broke through the Orlando backline and finished off a feed from Lamar Neagle.
“[Martins] brings special qualities but the most important thing he brings is he also gives everybody else on the field confidence,” Schmid said. “As their confidence grows, now all of the sudden guys who have been struggling, they play beyond themselves a little bit. It makes all the difference in the world.”
The goal and overall performance from Valdez was also a positive sign for Seattle, as the Paraguayan national looked perfectly comfortable in his first game action with Martins and his new Seattle teammates. He notched Seattle’s second goal of the day just minutes into the second half, after zipping a header into the Orlando net off a cross from midfielder Erik Friberg.
Afterwards, Martins said the history that he and Valdez have as teammates will bode well for their chemistry as they integrate their newest weapon into their attack.
“I played with [Valdez] on [Russian side] Rubin Kazan for a while,” Martins said. “We’ve played against each other too. So we’re quite close. We know each other, he’s a good guy, so we’re happy to have him here and we can’t wait for Clint [Dempsey] to get back as well for the team to be more solid.”
Seattle’s attack wasn’t the only facet of the team to benefit from a new face on Sunday, however. Torres also made his team debut and looked steady in the Sounders’ central defense beside Chad Marshall, last season’s MLS Defender of the Year.
“I felt really good [playing with Marshall],” Torres said. “It’s all about communication and he understands a little bit of Spanish so that helped a little bit. That way we were able to communicate well and keep the clean sheet.”