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Martins glad he crossed the ocean for 20-minute debut; coach and teammates impressed

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on March 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm with 1 Comment »
March 16, 2013 10:26 pm

Obafemi Martins flew from Spain to Seattle on Friday, played 20 minutes of soccer tonight, and will fly back across the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday.

Even Sounders’ general manager Adrian Hanauer thought that seemed a lot of time and effort. But Martins wanted to join his new team immediately, and after his brief Sounders debut Saturday said he was happy – tired, but happy – with his decision.

”I thought it was better to come now and see the place, and I am going to the (Nigeria) national team (next),” Martins said after the Sounders’ 1-1 draw with Portland. “… It was a little bit hard. I went to the embassy and that took a little time for the travel and all. (Hanauer) really wanted me to stay so I can go straight to the national team, but I decided to come straight to see the team and play as soon as possible.”

Martins efforts were acknowledged by Sounders fans, who applauded him when he walked across the pitch to the Seattle bench for the first time.

He finally was sent into the game in the 70th minute. He got a few touches, but no particular scoring chances. His highlight moment came in the 80th minute, when he sent a pass into space in front of the Portland goalmouth, but it rolled just beyond the reach of new teammate Eddie Johnson.

“We wanted to give him the opportunity,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “He wanted the opportunity, as well, because his mind, his spirit, his soul is here and he wants us to succeed and be successful. We didn’t want him to play too many minutes. He laid a great ball across that Eddie was almost on the end of. He hasn’t trained with the team, he doesn’t know the team, per se. He’ll get better, and the things that he can do—his quickness and things like that—will show through.”

Afterward, Martins said he was glad he made the trip, because he now has met and played with his teammates and experienced CenturyLink Field – all important first steps that will be behind him by the time he returns next week.

“It’s not going to be new to me anymore,” he said. “I’m going to try to help the team and score goals.”

(Martins won’t be the only Sounder leaving this week for international duty. “We lose a few,” Schmid said. “Mario leaves to go play for Honduras. Eddie leaves to go play for the U.S. Brad (Evans is) on standby – with his injury he’s coming along, but we’ll see. And Oba leaves to play for Nigeria. … It’s frustrating. It just delays it another week because we can’t train together. We need some time right now to train together.”)

Here’s some of what Martin, some of his teammates, and Schmid had to say about his debut:

MARTINS
On how his first reaction to the game:
“They are good fans and really supportive. I’m glad that I played today, and unfortunately we drew the game, which is a little bit sad. We have to continue.”

On his performance: “I was a little bit tired from the travel, but I decided I wanted to play.”

On choosing to come to Seattle immediately: ”I thought it was better to come now and see the place, and I am going to the (Nigeria) National Team now…It was a little bit hard. I went to the embassy and that took a little time for the travel and all. [Adrian Hanauer] really wanted me to stay so I can go straight to the national team, but I decided to come straight (here) to see the team and play as soon as possible.”

On the fans’ reaction: “I am going to say that (the Sounders has some) of the best fans. It’s different here. They are friendly and really support the team. It’s good and I like that.”

SCHMID
On Martins’ debut:
“It’s difficult for him having just flown in and so forth. We wanted to give him the opportunity, he wanted the opportunity, as well, because his mind, his spirit, his soul is here and he wants us to succeed and be successful. We didn’t want him to play too many minutes. He laid a great ball across that Eddie was almost on the end of. He hasn’t trained with the team, he doesn’t know the team, per se. He’ll get better, and the things that he can do—his quickness and things like that—will show through.”

EDDIE JOHNSON
On playing with Martins:
”It was the loudest it’s ever been at the CLink when he came out. The fans know the importance he has on this team and I thought he had a good debut. He was inches off from getting an assist with me today and he showed up in the 20 minutes what he can do and bring to the team. We’re excited he is here.”

OSVALDO ALONSO
On playing with Martins:
“It was good to have him out there, now he has to get on a plane and go back, but it was good to have him out there.”

STEVE ZAKUANI
On what Martins had to do to get here:
“He wants to play. I had a little chat with him before the game and he said he just wanted to play. He said he had seen this team play last season and was impressed with what he saw and he wanted to experience it. Playing against Portland was a good game for him to come and see, it doesn’t get much bigger than the game today. Of course we appreciate his commitment, and now he has to fly back all the way halfway across the world again, but I think it was good for him to be here. He definitely enjoyed it and saw what it’s about, and now he knows what to expect when he comes back for good.”

Leave a comment Comments → 1
  1. derekyoung says:

    Well I was happy he made the trip too. Even if it was for a fruitless endeavor. His skill and speed was clear.

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