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First E.J., now Obafemi Martins? What’s going on at forward for the Sounders?

Nov 15, 2013, 7:27 PM EDT

obafemi_martins AP

Even if the worst case scenario happens, the Seattle Sounders have Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagle, a forward duo most Major League Soccer teams would envy. Yet with Eddie Johnson having likely played his last game in Seattle while Obafemi Martins is looking to move, it’s worth considering what’s going on at forward in the Sounders.

The Johnson news made waves on Wednesday, but another piece of news was obscured by yesterday’s headlines of Sigi Schmid’s confirmed return: Seattle’s Nigerian international put out a come and get me plea, saying he felt “out of the loop” in Seattle. That’s not a reference to his place in the team; instead, it hints at his desire to return to Europe, were presumably he’ll increase his chances of making Nigeria’s potential World Cup squad.

[MORE: Cap casualty? Eddie Johnson may have already played his last game for Seattle]

[MORE: Sigi Schmid to remain as Seattle head coach]

Whether it’s true that Europe increases his chances for Brazil 2014 doesn’t matter. Martins perceives it to do true, so despite spending less than a year with a team that had to help buy-out his contract to free him from Levante, the vagabond is looking for another move. The 29-year-old specifically mentioned Turkish champions Galatasaray, who are coached by his former Inter Milan boss Roberto Mancini. If getting back in the loop is his goal, though, Martins would likely consider other spots, be it on a short-lerm or permanent basis.

He liked MLS, he said. The United States had been a good experience, and he’s been treated well by Seattle’s fans. Seemingly, Martins just has a thing for loops.

For some, this will serve as an ‘I told you so’ moment, with many noting Martins had played with five clubs in six years before joining Seattle. If he were to move back to Europe in January, it would likely be to his seventh team since the summer of 2009. At this point, no new Martins employer should expect the wandering attacker to stay long. The man’s a bit of a mercenary, having only appeared in 20 MLS games before now entertaining a move.

If you’re Seattle, a team already looking to trade one of its starting forwards, what do you do? Given how much was invested to get Martins to Seattle, the team would presumably want some return on their investment (if they’re even willing to let him go). If a team like Gala’s ready to do that, it’d be best to take what you can get, cash in, and go back into the market. Yesterday’s comments cast  doubt on the notion Martin will be willing to settle in Seattle.

Conceivably, this could open a Designated Player spot for Eddie Johnson, but don’t look for Seattle to do an about face on the U.S. international. Even if cap considerations are a big part of the Johnson picture, there would have to be a serious course correction for “E.J.” to be in rave green come March.

Instead, Seattle would likely take Martins’ departure as an opportunity to test the market, even if that opportunity would be an unexpected one. If they’re still willing to show the financial commitment they did with the Dempsey and Martins deals, the Nigerian’s departure could be a boon. The Sounders can find a striker who’s not so obsessed with loops.

  1. talgrath - Nov 15, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    If Martins doesn’t want to stay (assuming the translation is right, I don’t read Italian), there’s no point in hanging on to him as it could become a real problem; pay EJ the designated player money and move on, Johnson wants to stay he just also wants more pay. If I could magically change Martins’ mind though, I’d keep Martins every time, when he wasn’t injured this season the man has been electric; the goals he scores should be harder but he makes them look easy. Martins also has a ton of energy to go with his pace, his off the ball runs are always spot on and he gets so fired up he looks like a little kid. If Martins wants to move on though, you need to make sure you get a good transfer fee for him, Seattle paid $4 million to buy out his Levante contract after all, but if Martins wants out and you can get the right price, that solves a sticky designated player situation for Seattle.

  2. talgrath - Nov 15, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    If Martins wants out and the Sounders can recoup their $4 million buyout fee, I don’t see a reason to keep on a player that doesn’t want to play for Seattle. That said, if I could magically change Martins’ mind, I would keep him over Johnson any day. Martins makes the goals he get look easy, far easier than they are; he’s fast too and his runs off the ball are usually spot on, when he’s fired up he looks like a little kid excited to play the game. If Martins goes, that solves the DP questions for me though, give EJ and Alonso low DP salaries and move Rosales directly onto the cap (his salary is cheap enough to do that) and you’re set.

    • bgoldn7 - Nov 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      What people didn’t yet understand is that Martins (very good player) is a mercenary! Is already thinking of changing the team for more money … This is what happened in 7 teams where he go in the last 8 years …None of the teams have benefited from him … newcastle relegated Birmingham relegated, Rubin kazan and Wolfsburg win the championship the year before he arrived… get Martins and go by middle of ranking … never one of the teams which went Martins did better than when he was not there… look at the Seattle as well …look at Inter,after Martins leave win 5 championship 1 champions League end some cup….all coincidences????? Mmmmmmmmm…
      Even the fact that he have 4 children with 4 different women is shows is heartless!!
      this is what I wrote 10 days ago on this blog ..

  3. hildezero - Nov 15, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    That’s ignorance by Nigeria to not call up Oba just because he plays in MLS. Pft… Don’t they know that MLS is one of the best leagues in the world? MLS is easily top 20 or maybe even top 15! Such a shame that they still look at our league like it’s still 1996. Sure Oba has played in the best leagues in the world, but c’mon… He’s playing in the most talented club in the quickest fledgeling league in the world.

    • bgoldn7 - Nov 16, 2013 at 12:22 AM

      Nigeria the did’t call Oba not because he play for MLS,but because the know is mercenary he do everything for money not for LOVE…in January(African Cup), when he was play in SPANISH LEAGUE,for the first time they have not called in the National team …. guess who won?? NIGERIA!!

      • franco7788 - Nov 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM

        bgoldn7- be quiet and take your issues with Martin elsewhere.
        Martins wasn’t called in for the same reasons a number of veteran Nigerian players weren’t called in. Very many layers to the reason for his and their exclusion and this isn’t the forum for it.

        hildezero- Martins being called in had nothing to do with the league he plays in. The current Nigerian coaching setup respects MLS. Google Bright Dike. That let’s you know they respect MLS but calling up Dike to the national team over Martins lets one know the coaching setup has other issues with Martins and some senior players that were excluded.

  4. midtec2005 - Nov 16, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Well one things for sure, with these two potentially leaving, it will be up to Clint Dempsey to provide the goals. I hope EJ ends up staying though, it would be nice to see him and Clint get a nice partnership going right before the world cup.

  5. hildezero - Nov 16, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    @bgoldn7,

    Stfu you ignorant wannabe soccer fan.

    @franco7788,

    Okay. I see what you mean, but I didn’t know that Nigeria actually called up Dike.

  6. jdfsquared - Nov 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Or maybe Seattle could get an affordable option up top to help Dempsey and invest DP money in beefing up the defense.

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