Mario Martinez's future is very much in the air. In case the last few days weren't enough of a sign, he literally tweeted out that sentiment today.
Agradecidos por el apoyo saludos gente .. Real España o SSounders?? No se define aun,Ahora es momento d pensar en la selecc y la copa oro..— Mario Martinez (@mariomartinez_7) June 29, 2013
One thing we can safely is that Martinez's surprise call-up to the Honduras national team for the upcoming Gold Cup has added another wrinkle to negotiations. Even when the Sounders believed Martinez was going to be joining the team on Friday, they were already undecided as to keeping beyond his current loan deal. One has to imagine that the prospects of losing him for the entire month of July -- a month the Sounders will surely want him -- can only drive down the price Seattle is willing to pay.
It's not just July that is problematic, though. The reality is that Martinez is likely to miss two more games in September and two games in October for World Cup qualifiers. Even assuming he doesn't miss any additional time, it's looking like Martinez might only be available for 11 of the Sounders' remaining 20 matches this season.
Those are some figures that need to be factored into any decision, especially considering the Sounders probably stand to save somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 against the salary cap ($75,000 salary + estimated $75,000 in loan/transfer fees). That's a significant chunk of money that could be used on any number of positions that could be used to bolster a MLS Cup run, especially considering Martinez doesn't appear to be an automatic starter anywhere.
Of course, this isn't just about 2013. A lot of what is so intriguing about Martinez is tied up in his "potential." It's the stuff we've seen in flashes, both here and on the international stage, but that we've never seen in any sustained manner. We know Martinez is capable of amazing things, his playoff-winning goal against Real Salt Lake being the most shining example. But we see it in smaller moments too: the way he motors around a defender, when he hits a perfect cross or even in games like he had against the Philadelphia Union earlier this year when he picked up an assist and was showing the kind of all-field play that seemed to suggest he was receiving the coaches' messages.
If Martinez can ever put that together over the course of a full season, there's little doubt that he could be a very good MLS player.
The problem is that we've only seen glimpses and the Sounders are very much in a "win-now" mode. It's also not as if they've failed to give him opportunities. As agtk pointed out in the comments section recently, Martinez has played more than 1,000 minutes across all competitions since joining the Sounders, has appeared in some of huge games and has started about half the games he's been available this season. Maybe you could argue that he still hasn't been given enough time consecutively -- either in training or games -- but there are reasons to wonder if he'll ever be around enough to get there. It's also worth noting that he's only accrued one goal and three assists in all that time.
All things being equal, I think I'd rather have Martinez on this team than not. He's clearly a talented player, who has the potential to be very good. At the same time, I can't blame the Sounders for wanting to get the best deal possible, given his limited availability, and I can't really question their willingness to move on if the price isn't right.