clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Locker room seemingly unfazed by Obafemi Martins' departure

New, 176 comments

While admitting the timing is hardly ideal, Sounders seem happy enough to move on.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

On the field, there's no question that Obafemi Martins will be missed to some degree. He was the Seattle Sounders' leading scorer over the past two years and arguably the most talented player in MLS, striking fear into defenders whenever he had the ball anywhere near the goal.

But off the field, it seems to be a bit of a different story. While no one seemed to be second-guessing or harboring any ill will toward Martins for his decision to accept Shanghai Shenhua's offer less than two weeks before the start of the MLS season, there was no particular sense of longing put forth by the coaches or players.

"It's unfortunate to lose him at the start of the season, but at the same time I think we can all agree if we could choose a player to step in it would be Jordan [Morris]," Sounders captain Brad Evans said at Monday's media session. "Everybody in the locker room has been extremely happy, we haven't really spoken about Oba at all. From that standpoint, if we thought there was something missing, there would be more chatter. But the reality is we've been extremely happy with Jordan. He's developed into an extremely smart player."

Even Clint Dempsey, who had formed a legendary partnership with Martins, didn't seem particularly worried and admitted he hasn't actually talked to his almost-former teammate.

"I always spoke highly of Oba," Dempsey said. "I said I loved playing with him, if the move is finalized I'll definitely miss him. But it's like anything else, you have continue with where you are. We have a good group of players and it's about everybody stepping up."

From the sound of it, the Sounders will likely have to make do with the roster they currently have at least in the short term. Even after Martins' move is eventually finalized, Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey did not make it sound as if there were any immediate plans to bring in another offensive player. Most likely, Osvaldo Alonso will be moved into that DP spot in order to free up Targeted Allocation Money. Alonso could then move back to a TAM spot later in the season if that is necessitated.

"We're not going to have an immediate reaction and try to sign another striker or another player," Lagerwey said. "We're well prepared. We believe in the guys who are here, we believe in the guys that were very close to advancing in the playoffs last year, we believe in the guys who went [10] games unbeaten at the end of last year.

"We talked a lot of the offseason about getting younger and faster and I believe we've done that. I believe you see it when we see the second team training. I believe we've done a better job of aligning first tier guys and second tier guys in terms of style of play. We've put more structures in place. We think we have a pretty good team."

When the Sounders do eventually use the roster and salary-cap space opened by Martins' departure, chances are it won't be a forward.

"In a perfect world, I don't want three DP forwards," Lagerwey said. "Particularly when arguably our best young player is a forward in Jordan Morris. We'd like to have more balance front to back. I think that's one of the things we'd like to look at. I totally understand the anxiety in the community when you lose a player of Obafemi Martins' stature. I just want emphasize that we're going to be cautious about this. We have a good team and a lot of good players. We might look different than last year, but can we be successful? We believe we can and we'll keep all our options open."