SEATTLE – Prior to the Seattle Sounders’ home match-up against Toronto FC on Saturday night at CenturyLink Field, Seattle’s striker duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins hadn’t set foot on the field together since June.
But if they needed time to recapture the much-lauded chemistry that has made them the league’s most dynamic forward tandem, they certainly didn’t show it.
Both scored in their first appearance together back in Seattle’s starting XI on Saturday, giving the Sounders a 2-1 victory over Toronto and picking up three crucial points to keep them in the midst of the Western Conference playoff hunt.
“They’re fantastic players,” Seattle right back Tyrone Mears told reporters after the game. “You could see that again today. The link-up play, the way they move off each other. It’s really, really natural. You can see that again they’re going to finish the season strong.”
The amount that the Sounders have missed Martins and Dempsey together can’t be overstated. Without Dempsey (injury/national team duty) and Martins (adductor injury) for most of the summer, Seattle’s offense went silent, at one point going a franchise-record 363 minutes without scoring a goal.
Martins has now scored sixth-minute goals in back-to-back games, staking the Sounders to early leads that would turn out to be necessary in allowing them to squeak out one-goal victories. Dempsey, meanwhile, played the hero role on Saturday, finishing off a rebound for a 78th-minute game-winner.
“We’ve always had that pick-up style understanding with each other with our movement,” Dempsey said. “It’s something that you can’t really teach. We just have that understanding.”
The Sounders were playing without head coach Sigi Schmid, who was away from the team with an undisclosed health issue. Brian Schmetzer filled in for Seattle on the sideline, with Schmid expected to rejoin the squad next week.
“I wouldn’t say [I was nervous],” Schmetzer said. “I would probably say just more [filled with] determination. I didn’t want the game and effort those guys put in go to waste. I was kind of determined to think of everything we could as a staff to figure out a way to win the game. At the end of the day, it’s just Oba and Deuce, doing what they do."