Call it the Tao of Siegfried Schmid: “There’s a silver lining in every cloud.”
The injuries and suspension sustained by star Seattle forwards Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey this summer were disastrous at the time, the catalyst for eight losses in a 10-game span. Yet the enforced layoffs might have had an unintended, positive consequence. They limited the wear and tear on the duo’s aging legs, saving gas in the tank for the stretch run and postseason.
“There’s a silver lining in every cloud,” Schmid said this week. “With the injuries, which were obviously a negative … maybe on the other hand, guys have a little bit more energy than they would if they had 34 games under their belt.”
Dempsey, especially, has looked rejuvenated in recent weeks.
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The 32-year-old scored twice against Salt Lake in the regular-season finale, netted the opener against Los Angeles in the Knockout Round and smashed in the game-winner against FC Dallas on Sunday. Gone is the gloomy pall that had hung since he arrived back in town from the Gold Cup and subsequently injured his hamstring.
“Emotionally, there’s a lot that go into tournaments like the Gold Cup,” Schmid said. “I don’t think anybody really understands how psychologically draining those things are. … It’s just a very focused, concentrated period of time and mentally, you get tired.”
Dempsey, for his part, has said that he’s felt healthier and fresher in recent weeks than he has since spring.
Martins has also played a role in Seattle’s late-season resurgence, albeit a subtler one in the playoffs. Despite dishing out seven fewer assists than he managed in 2014, when he finished as runner-up for the league Most Valuable Player award, Martins netted just two fewer goals (15) despite playing in 10 fewer matches.
Though he’s yet to score in this postseason, Martins scored eight times in 10 regular-season games after returning from his midseason groin injury in August.
“Sometimes, because a player like him hasn’t necessarily contributed to the scoresheet, we forget about him,” Schmid said. “But he’s not a guy that we can forget about, because his contribution has been just as important as the others. … The way that he’s fought and battled on second balls, that’s an experienced player who knows it’s money time and we’ve got to do the business.”