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Martins wonder strike lifts Sounders past Earthquakes

ObafemiMartins (JaneG Photography)

Photo by Jane Gershovich/Jane G Photography


SEATTLE – After last week’s humiliating 5-0 defeat to the New England Revolution, the Seattle Sounders were eager to return to their winning ways. They faced a San Jose Earthquakes side coming off a hard-fought win against FC Dallas, and the Quakes were desperate to get another result as their difficult start to the season continues.

It was the Sounders who finished on top, as they rode Obafemi Martins eighth-minute wonder goal to a 1-0 victory in front of 49,746 fans at CenturyLink Field.

Seattle controlled the game and could have scored more if not for some great goalkeeping from Jon Busch, and San Jose was unable to produce much in the offensive third. The win propels the Sounders back to the top spot in the West, while San Jose sits in sixth place with 10 points in 10 matches.

Seattle came into Saturday’s match shorthanded as Brad Evans, Clint Dempsey, and DeAndre Yedlin were included in Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man camp to battle for a spot on the World Cup roster. Joining them were San Jose’s World Cup hopefuls Clarence Goodson and Chris Wondolowski, while centerback Victor Bernardez and midfielder Shea Salinas were forced to sit out due to suspension.

Between national team call ups, injuries, and suspensions, San Jose was unable to field a full bench, settling for 16 players rather than the customary 18.

San Jose head coach Mark Watson was pleased in his side’s performance despite missing several key players. “Obviously we’re disappointed to lose. I was proud of our guys tonight. I thought they performed pretty well,”  he said. “We’re chasing the game from pretty early on after a wonder goal, but a lot of positives in the performance.”

A combination of Nigeria’s lack of scoring options and Obafemi Martins impressive form led to speculation that he might earn himself a call up to Stephen Keshi’s side, but his name was omitted from the provisional 30-man World Cup roster.

Schmid has been pleased with Martins’ reaction to not being called up. “I thought he was really motivated and played well. In his disappointment in not being selected, he’s not walking around moping,” said Schmid. “He is going out there and showing, ‘Hey, you made a mistake.’”

“If they’re going to a World Cup, I’ll play my own World Cup with the Seattle Sounders,” he told reporters last week. “I’m happy to be here and to play games.” He looked quite happy Saturday night as his fifth goal of the season led the Sounders to a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.

The scoring opened in the eighth minute as Obafemi Martins got the Sounders on the board in exquisite fashion on the end of a lofted pass from Gonzalo Pineda. With his back to goal, the Nigerian unleashed a no-look chipped volley from the corner of the six yard box. A helpless Jon Busch could do nothing but watch as the ball sailed over his head, kissing the far post and rolling into the net.

“You can’t teach that,” said Sigi Schmid. “It’s definitely as good a goal as has been scored here.”

Busch gave Martins his plaudits; “You tip your hat to him because there’s nothing you can do,”he said. “Doesn’t matter who you are or where you play, that’s a good goal.”

Despite a handful of opportunities to increase their lead, Seattle settled with a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

The second half followed suit, as Seattle applied consistent pressure and came close to doubling their lead on a variety of occasions, but Busch frequently stepped up to keep his side in the match. Busch made crucial saves on Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, and Chad Barrett all from close range, while looking confident on crosses and set pieces.

“Jon Busch came up with some big saves in the second half to keep it at one,” said Schmid.

San Jose coach Mark Watson agreed.

“Jon was good tonight. He’s been good for us for a long time so I wasn’t surprised,” Watson said. “Once again, he made some really crucial saves that kept us in the game.”

Seattle’s much-maligned defense, statistically one of the leakiest in the league, recovered from last weekend’s calamitous performance to record a much-needed shutout, their first since the third week of the season. In truth, Stefan Frei was hardly troubled by a toothless San Jose attack that mustered only one shot on target, and Chad Marshall was on hand to sweep up all signs of danger.

“They were fantastic. I had pretty much nothing to do,” said Frei. “I thought we were very, very determined to keep that clean sheet today, so our organization was spot on.”

San Jose has struggled offensively this season as stand-in forwards Atiba Harris and Billy Schuler were unable to effectively fill in for Chris Wondolowski, but there were some encouraging signs as their makeshift backline did well to quell an illustrious Seattle offense. Busch was pleased with his backline as Ty Harden and Jordan Stewart helped solidify a makeshift backline that limited Seattle to one goal.  “I thought they did great.  We’ve got seasoned pros on this team and I thought they did a tremendous job,” he said.

The Sounders will hope to continue winning without Dempsey, Yedlin, and Evans next weekend in a Cascadia Cup match in Vancouver, while San Jose will try to rebound at home against Houston.


  1. This was a desperately poor match.

    San Jose has no chance at scoring without Wondolowski. If he makes the final cut for Brazil, that seals their fate for this year. Their squad has far too many castoffs who are of NASL/USL Pro level.

    Seattle got their early goal and sat back most of the match. Without Dempsey, they’re a very average team. They may win the Supporter’s Shield, but I don’t see them going far into the play-offs. Their centerbacks are so slow that they basically stand on the 18. Vancouver is going to give them fits. Manneh already did last year.

    • Seattle was missing 3 starters and had numerous people out of position as a result. They have the most points in the league, I am sure they will be fine. Also comparing anything from last year to this is odd, that backline is vastly different to the one from last year

    • TBone: wow, really poor match report there. Seattle “sat back most of the match”? 16 shots, 6 corners, 19 crosses, etc.—all stats that are almost identical to every other Sounders match this season, including all those come-from-behind wins where they were chasing a goal all night. Not to mention that Alonso and Pineda spent half their time on the attacking half of the field.

      “Their centerbacks are so slow that they basically stand on the 18.” Traore is slow. Marshall and Scott are not. Marshall gets forward frequently, and remember that Traore drew a penalty a week ago.

      Was Seattle noticeably working harder on defense? Yes, no question. Did they “sit back”? No way.

      • Exactly. If Busch plays to his average we win at least 2-nil. Almost every keeper we have faced has stood on his head compared to the gusy average performance.

        We have some holes on defense with all the attackers out there.

        Oh by the way, Drogba is free to sign anywhere as of today. BEIn sports and sources close to Gala had reported that he had signed with Seattle this past February. I guess we shall see soon,

        We would have to buy down Alonso 25K in allocation to open a 3rd DP spot. I dont know if we need him but he would be nice to have for size in the box come playoff time.

      • I would love to see Drogba in MLS. I would hope he goes somewhere other than Seattle though. Alonso earned that DP slot, and Dempsey and Martins have finally figured each other out. Sounders also have plenty of additional attacking options—Cooper, Neagle, Barrett, and eventually Pappa. I’d rather the Sounders picked up another CB.

        And I’d rather see Drogba somewhere else. I’m one of those weirdos who really likes parity. Send him to NYC.

      • With their full squad, San Jose is a below average MLS side. Last night they were missing seven starters. There is absolutely no way that they should have enjoyed slightly over 50% of possession. Seattle let them knock the ball around in their own half with the knowledge that the neither Harris or Schuler presented even a remote threat on goal. By late in the match most of the Earthquakes players were knackered. Having watched them a bunch, I don’t think that they are a well conditioned or prepared side.

        Both Marshall and Scott are slow. They simply aren’t glacially so like Traore. When Seattle face Vancouver, be prepared to see them get badly exposed.


      • You’ve made it perfectly clear how much you hate the Sounders. SJ did knock the ball around and had a bit more possession. It means nothing when it takes them into the 90th minute with their first shot on goal, from a 40 yard set piece.

        Your specific hatred of Alonso is so laughable, I don’t even know where to start. First of all, he’s never had blinding speed to begin with so your assertion that he’s somehow “lost a step” is simply absurd and wrong. Second, Jurgen Klinsmann has spent most of his tenure keeping in touch and up to date any/all possibilities of landing Osvaldo Alonso. If he was eligible, he would likely give Jermaine Jones a run for his money and certainly Beckerman would be on the bubble with Edu not even in the picture….Keep on hating though. I only wish there was any substance to your accusations against the Sounders and Ozzie. Unfortunately for you, there simply isn’t….

  2. Only 4 fouls by San Jose, or some small number like that. With Lenhart and Gordon out Watson needs to take a long look at this team and ask himself where he’s going to get his flagrant elbows from.

    • Overall a clean match. Even Hackman Alonso didn’t put in too many of his sliding, designed to injure tackles, though to be fair he tried a few and has clearly lost a step and didn’t connect.

      Marrufo did a very good job. The players appear to respect him and what contrast from the putrid Chris Penso, who should never referee another MLS match again…ever.

      • Alonso has lost a step LOL He owned the middle of the park. Pineda and Alonso are fun to watch and improving to together. Lets not forget that if Cuba would release Alonso he would be in camp right now with Clint, Brad, and maybe at the expense of Yedlin

      • By the way Marrufo was garbage. That first half foul on Neagle by Francis was a yellow for sure. People hate Alonso because he is just like Beckerman. I hear how both have lost a step. Makes me laugh. Go look at the OPTA stats and tell me anything has changed with Alonso.

      • I love Sounders customers. They pay so much and know so little. Exactly who’s place in the camp would Hackman have taken? Uh, that would be no one’s. Talk of him becoming eligible was just that, talk.

        Marrufo is only garbage because he doesn’t get intimidated by the large, loud crowd. He also doesn’t listen to that disgraceful clown Schmid. I’m sure that you’d love to have Penso for every match. He’d suit you well.

        So objectively Hackman owned the midfield against a really pair of opponents. That’s a great achievement. Beckerman is tough, but not cheap or dangerous. I’ve never seen him try to injure an opponent. He’s nothing like Alonso

        I’ll give Hackman credit though, he eventually caught up with slow-poke Attiba Harris and earned himself a yellow.

      • Troy, Alonso would be in camp in place of Edu, most likely. Maybe Beckerman. And the Sounders would die.

        TBone, please list all the players who’ve been injured by Alonso. k-thnx. (If you need a moment to first wipe away your tears, go ahead. I don’t mind.)

  3. I’d like to send a GIF of that goal to Keshi.

    Pappa continues to look better integrated into this team. Signing Pineda was a steal.

    • It is nearly summer and everyone was hoping for a nice, sunny day at the park. Or stadium. Or pitch. Whatever you want to call it.

    • Until quite recently, fans were under the impression that it would be the send-off game before the camp. So, summer weather (seriously, it has been paradisaical around here the last two weeks) and a chance to see two teams with some big names. Klinsmann called players in earlier than expected.

    • Martins: biggest quads, smallest feet. Does anyone know his shoe size? I’d guess he wears about a men’s size 6.5 US.


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