Obafemi Martins reportedly seals China move, Seattle yet to confirm

The big-spending Chinese Super League looks to have lured another talented player as Obafemi Martins’ time with the Seattle Sounders has reportedly come to an end.

ESPNFC first reported on Friday night that Martins was the subject of interest from the CSL, with BBC Sport then confirming that Shanghai Shenhua had indeed secured the services of the 31-year-old Nigerian striker.

That does not appear to be a certainty just yet though. The Seattle Sounders have yet to confirm whether their Designated Player has left the club, with General Manager Garth Lagerwey claiming “it could take a while” for a resolution to the situation.

“We’ve had an approach from a Chinese club for his services, and it could take a while to have that resolved. Hopefully we’ll know more by the end of the week,” Lagerwey said in a club statement on Sunday.

Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders

If Martins does indeed make the move to Shanghai Shenhua, he would link up with former New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, as well as Senegalese striker Demba Ba.

Several big names have made the move to China over the past month, with the Chinese transfer record being broken four times in this transfer window alone.

If Martins does leave Seattle, the Sounders would have a Designated Player slot freed up. But with less than three weeks until the start of the 2016 MLS season, the timing of his departure would raise concerns.

The former Inter Milan and Birmingham City striker has scored 40 goals with 23 assists since joining Seattle in March 2013.

How much of a blow would the loss of Obafemi Martins be for Seattle?

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Sporting Kansas City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday May 23rd – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Sporting Kansas City11/4

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders entertain Sporting Kansas City to CenturyLink Field in what has the potential to be one of the best games of the weekend.

This is the first of three home games for Sounders and Sigi Schmid’s side come into the game off the back of an away win against Vancouver Whitecaps.

Seattle are sitting third in the Western Conference having played 10, winning six, drawing one and losing three games.

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Obafemi Martins could miss this one. His lethal partnership with Clint Dempsey is proving to be unplayable and the pressure is on Dempsey to provide.

Sporting Kansas City come into this one after an impressive 4-2 over New England Revolution on Wednesday.

Peter Vermes will be delighted with the way his side’s has started the season and will be hoping for a positive result here to show they’re capable of maintaining a push for the playoffs.

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Benny Feilhaber has been in inspired form this season and is pushing for a call-up for the Gold Cup. He has scored three and created six already.

Team News

Seattle Sounders will probably be without Obafemi Martins which is a huge blow as he has scored six goals this season and Chad Marshall is a doubt.

Sporting Kansas City are littered with injuries. Ike Opara, Seth Sinovic and Chance Myers are all out. Roger Espinoza, Paulo Nagamura and Bernardo Anor are all doubts while Marcel de Jong and Graham Zusi will be pushing for a start.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five: W/W/W/D/W

Sporting Kansas City’s last five: L/D/W/D/W

Key Stat: Seattle have won 7 of their last 8 matches against Kansas City in all competitions.

Key Player: Clint Dempsey – the prolific number two will be expected to step-up in the absence of his strike partner.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 Sporting Kansas City – Sounders to edge a tough tie against a good Kansas City side struggling with injuries.

Do the Seattle Sounders rely too heavily on their stars?

Seattle Sounders returned to winning ways this weekend against the Houston Dynamo but they created significantly less than their opponents and over-reliance on stars could be a worry.

Seattle had just five shots in the whole game, compared to Dynamo’s 15, but both sides had just two on target.

The Sounders won the game by a single goal from Obafemi Martins on his return to the starting lineup, taking him level with strike partner Clint Dempsey on three goals for the season.

Obafemi Martins’ goal vs. Houston (via Seattle Sounders on YouTube):

Martins and Dempsey have scored all of Seattle’s six goals so far and it is clear that the team wouldn’t be able to cope without their Designated Players.

The Sounders looked a completely different outfit with the return of their big name forwards compared to last week’s 0-0 draw with FC Dallas. The concern is that they could seriously struggle if a long-term injury is sustained by either, or both of their star strikers.

Osvaldo Alonso also returned to the side to make his first start this season in Saturday’s win against Houston and head coach Sigi Schmid will hope that having all three DP’s back in the team will lead to a good run of form.

While it is clear that Designated Players are meant to make the difference for their teams, the worry with Seattle is that the overall squad depth seems to be lacking at this early stage of the season.

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It could be match fitness, but relying on key individuals to drag you through a season is not the sort of recipe that leads to MLS Cup success, and that is the aim for the Sounders.

They will face their toughest test of the season so far in their next fixture against MLS Cup holders and Western Conference rivals, LA Galaxy, away at the StubHub Centre on Sunday, April 12.

Neither side has been able to show their superiority in MLS so far this season and so next weekend’s clash is an important one.

Are the Seattle Sounders over-reliant on Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey?

Sounders hope returning stars can prove to be the difference

Seattle Sounders were depleted due to injuries as they had to settle for a 0-0 draw against ten-man FC Dallas last weekend. Players were away on international duty or out injured and so head coach Sigi Schmid had to field a number of reserve players and youngsters.

Their makeshift team put in a solid display against Dallas but will be hoping to get back to winning ways against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening.

Sounders were without key players, Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso and Chad Marshall, who were all absent through injury, but they are all in line to return this weekend.

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Marco Pappa also missed out as he featured for national side Guatemala, and he will also be available for selection for the weekend’s clash with Houston.

Clint Dempsey has declared himself fit for the game despite withdrawing from the US Men’s National Team squad with a hamstring problem, as reported by MLSsoccer.com.

“I feel good, I was able to get some good training sessions in this week. I’ve been back in full training for a few days now, and I’m looking forward to the weekend, I’ll be wanting to start.”

The other member of Sounders’ deadly strike force, Obafemi Martins, tweaked his quad in the clubs’ friendly against Club Tijuana but he has said he is feeling good ahead of the game.

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“I’m good. A lot better now. It was good for me to rest it because I was feeling a lot of pain. Now, I’m ready to go.”

Sounders will welcome the return of their key men but it is worrying how much quality they lacked without their stars last time out.

The 2014 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners haven’t won since the opening weekend and will see Saturday’s game with Houston as a great opportunity to get three points on the board.

Will the Seattle Sounders return to winning ways after welcoming back their stars?

Seattle Sounders head coach Schmid hails “sublime” Martins and Dempsey

Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has talked up the ability of strike partners Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey following their 6-0 preseason win over FC Tucson on Wednesday.

Dempsey bagged himself two goals in an emphatic performance, and although fellow forward Martins wasn’t on the scoresheet, he did play a hand in the first two goals, which has pleased Schmid.

“Some of the combinations, the goal where they combined on the 2nd goal, as a coach you just sit there and what do you say?” Schmid said while talking to the Seattle Sounders YouTube channel.

“I can’t teach that, we can’t diagram that and show them that. That’s just their instincts. And their ability to play off of each other is just so sublime.”

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The lethal partnership contributed an astonishing 55 goals between them via goals scored and goals assisted in the 2014 regular season and it looks as though they mean business again in 2015.

“I was happy for Clint, happy for the goals that he got because as a goalscorer you always want to get your confidence there. Oba (Martins) will be back on the board as well sometime soon,” Schmid added.

Lamar Neagle and Kevin Parsemain also both helped themselves to two goals each on the night.

How important will Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins be for Seattle Sounders in 2015?

MLSGB’s MLS Goal of the Year – As voted by YOU!

We ran a poll through November giving you the chance to vote for your MLS Goal of the Year from our selection of ten of the best from the 2014 season.

The results are in and you have voted for Obafemi Martins’ excellent individual effort against the Portland Timbers as the MLSGB MLS Goal of the Year.

Obafemi Martins solo goal against Portland (via MLS on YouTube):

That goal was one of 17 for the Seattle Sounders striker during the 2014 campaign – the most by any player on the team and he also led the team in assists with 12.

Martins helped Seattle to win both the US Open Cup and the MLS Supporters’ Shield this year, but they ran out of steam in the playoffs, losing on away goals to the LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Championship game.

Will Johnson’s sublime strike and Erick Torres’ incredible volley were joint-second behind Martins for the Goal of the Year award but the Sounders star takes this year’s honour.

Do you think Obafemi Martins deserves the Goal of the Year award?

Clint Dempsey says Seattle Sounders are “feeling good” ahead of LA Galaxy clash

Following their Western Conference playoff semi-final victory over FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been looking ahead to the conference final against LA Galaxy in a fortnight.

“We believe in ourselves – to win the Supporters’ Shield we had to play two games against them (LA Galaxy) and get the right result, so we’re a team that’s done well this season in terms of silverware.

“We have that confidence moving forward and we feel good,” he said to the Seattle Sounders YouTube channel.

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Despite the high level of confidence in the team, Dempsey is still cautious of the quality that the Galaxy possess.

“They’re a good team with a lot of quality – that’s the reason why they’re still in the playoffs.

“We have to figure out a way to manage these games in the right way because you don’t want to leave yourselves with a mountain to climb come the second game.

“To be the best you’ve got to play against the best and we’ve got to stay hungry for more.”

Dempsey’s partnership with Obafemi Martins has been inspirational to the Sounders this season and is one of the main reasons that they’re where they are.

“I love playing with Oba, he’s a world class player, we have a good chemistry, I think you can see that all year, we work well together and create chances for each other.”

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Although Dempsey has been left off the roster for the upcoming USMNT friendlies, he still “wishes them the best” and he’s had a “good conversation with Jurgen (Klinsmann) and looks forward to 2015”.

Every cloud has a silver lining though, as his omission from the squad for this international break should leave him feeling fresh and ready to fire on all cylinders in the next stage of the playoffs.

How crucial is Clint Dempsey to Seattle Sounders?