"I'm ready to go," said Martins — three times — after his first practice with the team Thursday.
TUKWILA — Obafemi Martins, Sounders FC’s exciting new addition, practiced with the team for the first time Thursday.
Oddly enough, it came 12 days after his first game.
Indeed, not much has been conventional in the designated player’s addition, but things should start to clear up heading into Saturday’s game at Real Salt Lake. First and foremost is his availability upon returning from the Nigerian national team this week.
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“I’m ready to go,” said Martins — not once, but three times.
Teammates, coaches and, of course, fans can’t wait to see him again.
Martins, a veteran of top teams in England, Italy, Germany and Spain, played as a sub against Portland on March 16. His Sounders debut came less than 24 hours after his arrival from Europe, but he left the following day for a World Cup qualifier in Nigeria.
Thousands of miles later, Martins is back again. One person particularly excited is forward partner Eddie Johnson, who himself returned this week from national-team duty with the U.S.
“He’s proven that he can score goals in the biggest leagues in the world,” Johnson said of Martins. “It’s just a matter of time before his goals come.”
Glimpses of a potentially lethal partnership up front are already visible, according to coach Sigi Schmid.
“Obviously (Martins) is learning people and people are learning him,” Schmid said, “but there were already a couple good combinations. … I think as they get to know each other, they’ll be good.”
The Sounders could use a boost on offense; the team has scored just once in an 0-2-1 start in MLS, a goal by Johnson against the Timbers. With both forwards gone in Saturday’s shutout loss at San Jose, Schmid likened Seattle’s attack to that of a butter knife: “We weren’t quite sharp enough when we needed to be.”
“I think we’re probably a little bit sharper,” the coach said. “We’re a little bit of a serrated edge.”
Added Johnson: “I don’t think we’re going through a tough spell. I think it’s a challenging spell — trying to think of something positive — because I think we’ve got a very special group, and it’s just going to take time for us to jell.”
• Mario Martinez, as of Thursday’s practice, had not returned from Honduran national-team duty, but Schmid said the midfielder is “on his way back.”
• Sounders FC’s MLS Reserve League game at RSL has been postponed indefinitely to accommodate Seattle’s CONCACAF Champions League game Tuesday against Mexico’s Santos Laguna. “It makes no sense to play a reserve game on Sunday,” Schmid said. “Why would we want to throw in a third game? That would mean we’re playing three games in four days. For the group, it’s a lot better to push that game off.”
• Reign FC is home from a preseason trip to Japan. Game tickets for the upcoming NWSL season go on sale April 8. The team is not pursuing a local television deal, but games will be streamed online.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers