This weekend may still be too early for Obafemi Martins to make his return to the Seattle Sounders, but after a second straight day of being able to effectively train in full there is at least light at the end of his injury tunnel. Martins hasn't played since June 17, when he left the Sounders' U.S. Open Cup match with a adductor injury.
"We're trying to get him into as much team practice as we can," Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters on Thursday, noting that Martins was even able to do some extra shooting work after the main session. "He's definitely progressing at this stage. The timeline of exactly when he's back, I can't tell you for sure, but it's sooner now rather than later."
That should come as a rather significant relief to the Sounders, who have struggled mightily when Martins is out of the lineup. In the seven games since Martins was injured, the Sounders have scored just two goals and been shut out five times. Dating back to the start of the season, the Sounders have scored just four goals in the 11 matches they've played without Martins. That's compared to the 21 goals the Sounders have scored -- including seven by him -- in the 11 matches Martins has at least appeared.
Even if Martins doesn't return this week, the Sounders should at least have Clint Dempsey as an option off the bench. The other half of the Sounders' dynamic duo is scheduled to rejoin training on Friday after missing the same period as Martins due to a suspension and national-team duty. Dempsey also played 45 minutes in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday.
Don't expect the Sounders to try to make up for lost time as they enter the busiest month on their schedule, though.
"Dempsey had a month where he played seven games (six with the United States and one with the MLS All-Stars)," Schmid said. "You can't say one month play seven games and the next month play eight, 15 games in two months is a ton of soccer. We want to make sure that, at the end of the day, our big goal is still MLS Cup. Champions League is not unimportant, but we'll have to adjust the lineup as we see fit."
FREI UPDATE: The Sounders defense should also get a shot in the arm this weekend. Not only has Brad Evans been training all week, Stefan Frei has also gotten through his heaviest week of training since suffering an injury against D.C. United on July 3.