Drawn by Oba recommendation, Kim Kee-hee brings global pedigree to Sounders

SEATTLE – Former Seattle Sounders star forward Obafemi Martins hasn’t played in MLS since he departed the Rave Green for the Chinese Super League back in 2016.

But even though he’s still currently plying his trade with Shanghai Shenhua FC of the CSL, it appears that Martins delivered his old team an assist from across the pond.

The Sounders officially introduced newly-signed defender Kim Kee-hee, who played with Martins in Shanghai for two seasons, at the club’s media day at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday.

Speaking with Stateside reporters for the first time, Kim, a South Korea international, said that he chose to come to the Sounders partially on the advice of his old teammate.

“I played with Obafemi Martins in China and he put in a lot of good words for Seattle,” Kim said. “He talked a lot about a lot of fans in Seattle. So that’s one thing that made me come here.”

The 28-year-old is a central defender by trade, but said that he is more than comfortable playing as a defensive midfielder and has even played right back for the South Korea national team.

The Sounders still boast one of the more physically imposing and technically sound center back duos in the league in three-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall and Panamanian international Roman Torres. But they’re both over 30, and with Torres set to join Panama in Russia at the World Cup for a portion of the summer, the team needed depth at the position.

“When you look at a player who is an international player for his country, looking to play in a World Cup this summer, that sets a certain standard for him,” Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson said on Wednesday.

“He was a champion at [ages] 15 and 16 in Korea, so he comes from winning teams. It’s a hard-working league, a difficult league for defenders with the style of play they have. I think he’s shown composure in that position and he fits many of the things we look for in a center back for our team. So, I think in that rotation in the back for us, he’s a really good fit.”