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The Sounders’ Clint Dempsey spoke of his strike partnership with Obafemi Martins in glowing terms through most of their time together in Seattle — “like kids playing together on the playground,” the veteran once said of their chemistry — and the tone didn’t change Monday despite Martins’ move to the Chinese Super League that is still imminent if not finalized.

“At the end of the day, everybody has the right to choose their own path in their career,” Dempsey said during media day at CenturyLink Field. “I have a lot of respect for Oba. He’s come from a little kid in Nigeria to playing with some of the best clubs in the world. He’s had a great career. Who am I to tell him anything? All I can say is that I enjoyed my time playing with him. He was one of my favorite teammates I got to play with.”

Dempsey and Martins combined for 32 goals and 23 assists during the team’s Supporters’ Shield run in 2014 as Martins finished second in MLS MVP voting. Last year, those numbers dipped to 25 and 16, respectively, as both missed significant chunks of the season due to injury, suspension and national team call-ups.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him,” Dempsey clarified. “I had a really good relationship with him on the field. I’m going to miss him. I knew that if I made the right runs, he would find me and vice versa. … Wherever he goes, he’ll be successful.”