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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GALLERY: Exclusive photos from Seattle’s first leg playoff win over FC Dallas

Seattle Sounders managed to rally from a goal down to win the first leg of their MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal with FC Dallas last night.

Fine goals from Andreas Ivanschitz and Clint Dempsey turned the tie on its head after Fabian Castillo gave Dallas an early lead with an important away goal.

The second leg will be played at Toyota Stadium next Sunday night with the winner advancing to the Western Conference final against either Portland or Vancouver.

Check out exclusive photos from the game at CenturyLink Field below, courtesy of Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas  Marco Pappa Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Celebrate Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fabian Castillo Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas Fans

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy  

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, October 4 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 1/1  – Draw 12/5 – LA Galaxy 5/2

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders entertain Western Conference rivals L.A Galaxy in a standout fixture this weekend in a game not to be missed.

Sounders sit 4th in the Western Conference, on 46 points, trailing leaders Galaxy by four points, and will want to take a positive result from this one to avoid any late slip-ups in the race for a playoff spot.

They come into this one off the back of their 1-1 draw away against Sporting Kansas City, and are unbeaten in their last five.

Sounders are yet to beat Galaxy this season and will hope that their recent form against their opponents at home, winning three of the last five at CenturyLink Field, will continue.

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LA Galaxy lead the Western Conference and the race for the Supporters’ Shield, so they have a lot to play for here.

They come into the game off the back of their 3-2 home win against FC Dallas, which ended their three game winless run.

Galaxy will hope their poor run of form away from home will not cost them in this tie, but know they face a tough task against Sounders forwards Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.

LA’s big-game players need to step up once again this week if they are to take all three points here. Giovani Dos Santos, Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard all scored last weekend and the three of them will be looking to cause problems for the Sounders defence.

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Team News

Seattle Sounders are expecting to be without Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven. They have five players who are one away from suspension; Zach Scott, Andy Scott, Andy Rose, Gonzalo Pineda, Oneil Fisher and Brad Evans.

LA Galaxy have three injury concerns. Brian Perk remains out while Todd Dunivant and Baggio Husidic are doubts. They have no players nearing suspension.

Key Points

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

LA Galaxy’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: LA Galaxy have failed to win 19 of their last 21 away matches in MLS.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Sounders goal machine has netted 14 in 18 appearances this season and has eight in his last eight, as ever, we can expect him to be a nightmare for the opposition defenders.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-1 LA Galaxy – Sounders to edge this one and take advantage of a Galaxy side who have struggled on the road.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Sporting Kansas City vs Seattle Sounders

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

Venue: Sporting Park – Sunday, September 27 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

Match Odds: Sporting Kansas City 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Seattle Sounders 2/1

Match Preview

Saturday night sees fourth play fifth in the Western Conference as Sporting Kansas City host the Seattle Sounders at Sporting Park. Sporting KC come into the game in a dismal run of form with just one win in seven.

They have been imperious at home, however, managing to only lose once as they remain strong contenders for the MLS Cup, so long as they can hold on to their playoff spot.

It’s interesting to note that SKC boasted the best points-per-game record in MLS earlier in the season and looked to be on course for the Supporters’ Shield title this year.

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They may not be battling at the top end now with four weeks to go but a US Open Cup final is in store and they will be planning for a successful playoff run too.

Sporting Kansas City’s record in MLS: P29 – W12 – D8 – L9

Seattle have had a whirlwind season that has been hindered by injuries. Star men Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are seemingly back to full fitness and ready for the playoffs now. Their absences have cost Seattle dearly but with them both in the side, the Sounders are a real force.

At one point it looked like the Sounders wouldn’t make the playoffs but they remain three points behind the Western Conference leading Vancouver Whitecaps and are putting some solid form together now.

They remain a strong outfit in MLS and should be a force to fear in the playoffs, providing their key men can stay fit.

Seattle Sounders’ record in MLS: P30 – W14 – D3 – L13 

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Team News

Sporting Kansas City are still missing Ike Opara with a ruptured achilles tendon, while Roger Espinoza is also out with an ankle fracture. Amobi Okugo and Tim Melia are both doubtful.

Seattle Sounders are without three players through injury. Roman Torres, Andres Correa and Andy Craven are all set to play no part through respective injuries.

Key Points

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

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

Key Stat: Seattle have failed to score in the two previous meetings between the two sides so far this year.

Key Player: Benny Feilhaber – Easily the most influential player on the pitch in terms of his vast experience and eye for goal this season. As well as ten goals, he also has ten assists. It’s been an impressive season for Feilhaber and we expect him to be key on Saturday.

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Score Prediction

Sporting Kansas City 1-1 Seattle Sounders – Should be an entertaining game providing a lot of attacking play as both sides tend to not be afraid to get forward. A low scoring draw is what we’ve gone for.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Toronto FC 

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, September 5 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 5/6  – Draw 13/5 – Toronto 16/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders welcome Toronto to CenturyLink Field on Saturday with both sides battling for playoff places.

Sounders are 6th on 38 points in the Western Conference and their recent shaky form has resulted in them only just sitting in a playoff spot.

Sigi Schmid’s side have won just three of their last 12 regular season games but come into this one off the back of a 2-1 home win over Portland Timbers.

With San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo applying the pressure on Sounders, Schmid is more than aware his side cannot afford anymore sloppy performances and this is a game they have to take points from.

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Toronto have been in solid form, winning their last two on the bounce and have registered three wins in their last five outings.

Greg Vanney’s side have struggled to find form on the road and haven’t won in their last five attempts away from home.

Toronto are sitting 4th in the Eastern Conference on 37 points and aren’t out of the running to contest for the Supporters’ Shield, but their main aim will be to finish the season with a good run of form and head into the playoffs full of confidence.

They come into the game off the back of a 2-1 home win against Montreal Impact and will feel they have a chance of upsetting Sounders but know this will be a tough task.

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Team News

Seattle have six injury concerns heading into this tie. Andreas Correa, Andy Craven and Damion Lowe are all out, while Leonardo Gonzalez, Clint Dempsey and Andreas Ivanschitz are all doubts. Osvaldo Alonso and Andy Rose are both one caution away from suspension. While Roman Torres, Marco Pappa and Victor Mansaray are away on international duty

Toronto also have six injury concerns for this one. Mark Bloom remains out, but their main concern will be whether or not key man Sebastian Giovinco will feature as he is a doubt. Benoit Cheyrou, Jackson, Damien Perquis and Nick Hagglund are also all doubts. Jozy Altidore is away on international duty with the USMNT, while Colleen Warner is suspended.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five in MLS: L/L/W/L/W

Toronto’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Toronto have failed to win any of their last five away ties in MLS and have conceded at least three in all of those games.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Sounders forward has netted an impressive ten goals in 14 appearances this season and it has left us wondering how much better things could be if he had been fit all campaign.

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Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 3-1 Toronto – Sounders to make home advantage count and beat a Toronto side who have struggled of late on the road.

PHOTOS: Exclusive images from Seattle’s 2-1 win over Portland on Sunday

Seattle Sounders managed to beat Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers 2-1 on Sunday night in a key Western Conference clash at CenturyLink Field, despite being outplayed for large parts of the game.

The Timbers wasted several opportunities and will be kicking themselves for leaving Seattle with nothing as they now sit just two points clear of the Sounders with seven regular season games to play.

An early Obafemi Martins goal settled Seattle supporters’ nerves before Brad Evans doubled their lead against the run of play from the penalty spot.

The Timbers rallied to score early in the second-half through Jack Jewsbury but couldn’t find that elusive equaliser as Seattle beat them for the second time at CenturyLink Field this season.

Check out our exclusive images from the game below, courtesy of our North American photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Neagle Powell Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Marshall Powell Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Martins Borchers Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Fans Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers Martins Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

 

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Sunday, August 30 – 16:30 ET (22:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle 13/10  – Draw 12/5 – Portland 2/1

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders take on the Portland Timbers in the latest Cascadia Cup clash on Sunday night as part of Heineken Rivalry Week in MLS, with more than just bragging rights at stake in this Western Conference showdown.

The Sounders come into the game in horrendous form, having lost six of their last seven. They fell 2-0 at Real Salt Lake last weekend, failing to score for the fifth time in their past seven games and they come into the weekend outside of the playoff places – something very few could have predicted after 25 weeks of the regular season.

Seattle still have time to get back to their best but with games running out, and a playoff place far from guaranteed, the pressure is really on Sigi Schmid and his team to deliver.

Seattle’s 2015 MLS record: P26 – W11 – D2 – L13

Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City

A fierce rivalry game against the Timbers will get the fans excited and a loss at home here would go down as a major disaster.

Portland come into the game in much better shape having gone unbeaten through their last four in MLS. They rallied from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to the Houston Dynamo last Friday, with Lucas Melano scoring his first goal for his new side in that game.

 

Portland’s 2015 MLS record: P26 – W11 – D7 – L8

They travel to CenturyLink Field five points further ahead of the Sounders in fourth place in the West and know a win here will give their playoff chances a huge boost with just seven to go after Sunday’s clash.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

These two rivals will be meeting for the fourth time this season on Sunday. The two previous league games have seen each side win. Seattle took the first meeting 1-0 before Portland then won the reverse fixture 4-1 in June.

They also met in the US Open Cup in a crazy game that Portland won 3-1 after extra-time as the Sounders ended the game with seven players.

Photo: Max Aquino

Photo: Max Aquino

Team News

Seattle have several injury concerns ahead of this one. Andreas Correa, Andy Craven, Damion Lowe and Chad Barrett are all out, while Osvaldo Alonso, Leonardo Gonzalez and Clint Dempsey remain doubtful but could feature. Obafemi Martins is fit and will start in attack.

Portland will be without Diego Chara as the midfielder serves a one-game suspension following a red card last time out. Ben Zemanski is the Timbers’ only injury worry as he remains out with a torn ACL. Fanendo Adi and Lucas Melano will be battling for the starting striker role.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders’ last five in MLS: L/L/L/W/L

Portland Timbers’ last five in MLS: L/D/W/W/D

Key Stat: Portland Timbers have never won away at Seattle in an MLS regular season game.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Nigerian forward is back to full fitness and is always a threat at CenturyLink Field. He has scored twice in Seattle’s last home game and will need to lead the attack on Sunday night to give the Sounders a chance of victory.

Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-2 Portland Timbers – Games between these two are often highly enjoyable affairs and this one should be no different. It’s tough to pick a winner going into the game and a score draw could be the most likely outcome and both will be so worried about losing such a big game.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Real Salt Lake vs Seattle Sounders

Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders

Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, August 22 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – Seattle Sounders 9/4

Match Preview

Real Salt Lake welcome Seattle Sounders to Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night with both teams fighting for the same place in the Western Conference playoffs.

And seeing as Real Salt Lake have won their last three matches against Seattle in all competitions, there is an added incentive for both sides to go for all three points in what could be a pivotal fixture. Seattle will want to end that run, while Real Salt Lake will look to extend it to four games.

However, at the moment, Real Salt Lake remain six points off the Sounders in the final playoff slot with only nine games remaining and their chances of making the postseason look slim after a tough season.

Real Salt Lake’s record in MLS: P25 – W7 – D8 – L10

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Seattle haven’t had the best of years either and they’ve been dreadful recently. But they did pick up a valuable three points last weekend when they dispatched Orlando City 4-0 at home, with new signings Roman Torres and Nelson Valdez impressing.

They have however, lost eight of their last ten in Major League Soccer and their playoff place is in jeopardy because of this form.

The main reason they have been struggling is down to the absence of star strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. But with Obafemi Martins returning with a brace last weekend, their form may be about to pick up going into the final stretch of the season.

Seattle Sounders’ record in MLS: P25 – W11 – D2 – L12

Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City

This will be the first meeting between the two this season, with a return fixture at CenturyLink Field coming on the final day of the 2015 regular season.

Real Salt Lake have won each of the last three games at home, but did lose the most recent meeting 3-2 in Seattle last September.

Team News

Real Salt Lake have three players doubtful for the clash with Jordan Allen, Chris Schuler and Joao Plata all carrying injuries.

Seattle Sounders are still without Marco Pappa through the MLS SABH Program. Andres Correa, Andy Craven and Damion Lowe are all out injured. Osvaldo Alonso, Chad Barrett, Leonardo Gonzalez and Clint Dempsey are all doubts. Obafemi Martins should continue in attack with new partner Nelson Valdez.

Key Points

Real Salt Lake’s last five in MLS: W/W/L/L/L

Seattle Sounders’ last five in MLS: L/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: Seattle have lost their last six away matches in MLS. Homesick.

Key Player: Obafemi Martins – The Nigerian striker returned in Seattle’s 4-0 win over Orlando City and provides some much needed firepower to the Seattle attack. Expect him to be dangerous throughout.

Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders

Score Prediction

Real Salt Lake 1-2 Seattle Sounders – Following the return of Obafemi Martins and Real Salt Lake’s recent poor form, we see Seattle just shaving the win in what will be a tight game due to its importance for both sides.

PHOTOS: Exclusive images from Seattle Sounders’ 4-0 win over Orlando City

The Seattle Sounders got a much needed win under their belt when they beat Orlando City 4-0 on Sunday night, snapping a worrying five-game losing streak.

Things have not been easy for the Sounders in recent times but the return of Obafemi Martins inspired them to victory, while new signings Roman Torres and Nelson Valdez made their debuts and also strengthened Sigi Schmid’s team.

Martins netted twice, while Valdez scored a debut goal and Thomas added a late fourth. Seattle were dominant and were helped by the fact Orlando had to play more than half of the game with ten men after Tyler Turner saw red for two bookings in the first-half.

Orlando have now lost their last three away games and are outside of the playoff places in the Eastern Conference with nine games to play.

Seattle are hanging on to sixth spot in the West and are eight points off top spot with nine games to play too.

Check out the exclusive images from the game below, taken by our North American photographer Denise McCooey.

Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Kaka Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Nelson Valdez Luke Boden Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Aurelien Collin Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Kaka Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Nelson Valdez Cyle Larin Roman Torres Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders vs Orlando City Obafemi Martins

MLS Preview and Prediction: Seattle Sounders vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids

Venue: CenturyLink Field – Saturday, July 18 – 22:00 ET (03:00 BST)

Match Odds: Seattle Sounders 11/10 – Draw 9/4 – Colorado Rapids 13/5

Match Preview

Seattle Sounders face Colorado Rapids for the third time this season as the Sounders look to get back to winning ways after this loss last week away at Chicago Fire. While the Rapids will look to not end up on the receiving end of a third loss to the hosts this term.

Seattle may be sitting at the top of the Western Conference but they have been less than convincing since Clint Dempsey picked up his red card in the US Open Cup. One win in their last five in MLS has seen the mighty fall greatly in terms of performances and results.

Seattle are on level points with second placed sides FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps with first and sixth place in the Western separated by just two points.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

With Obafemi Martins also injured for this one, Chad Barrett will likely earn another start and fill in for the Nigerian who is expected to be out for a number of weeks.

With six games left at home, the Sounders need home comforts to sustain their position in the playoff places as failure to make the top six would be seen as a major disappointment from the supporters’ perspective.

Last weekend saw Colorado Rapids pick up a 3-1 victory over Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake in a compelling match down at the lower end of the Western.

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Colorado are still nine points away from the playoff places as it looks as though several draws and failure to win matches is what will cost the Rapids a precious spot in the top six come the end of the regular season.

In their back-to-back wins coming into this one, they scored five goals with five different players getting on the scoresheet.

They will now look to win in Seattle for a first time. That will be no easy achievement as the Sounders have won nine of the last ten home games between the two.

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The previous fixture saw Seattle Sounders win 1-0 at CenturyLink Field, compliments of a Marco Pappa goal, while the meeting in Colorado ended 3-1 to last year’s Supporters’ Shield champions.

Team News

Seattle Sounders will miss Obafemi Martins (adductor) Andres Correa could be brought back and also Stefen Frei.  The Sounders will also miss Marco Pappa, Brad Evans and Clint Dempsey due to playing in the Gold Cup

Colorado Rapids will be without Luis Solignac (hamstring), but could welcome back both Axel Sjoberg and Dillon Serna. Bobby Burling will miss out due to suspension. Gabriel Torres is away on international duty.

Key Points

Seattle Sounders last five in MLS: L/L/L/W/L

Colorado Rapids last five in MLS: D/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Although they are at opposite ends of the table, both sides have conceded 29 goals so far this term.

Key Player: Chad Barrett – The 30-year-old attacker has three goals this season. When Martins and Dempsey have been missing, he has shown he has got talent to find the back of the net and he has the task of getting the goals to break down a resilient Colorado Rapids defence on Saturday night.

Seattle Sounders Chad Barrett

Score Prediction

Seattle Sounders 2-0 Colorado Rapids – History suggests Seattle will be comfortable winners, which is likely seeing as they have more star quality in the side. Even with injuries and international absentees affecting them, the Sounders still look stronger. Home win.