In the days leading up to the match, Seattle Sounders FC forward Obafemi Martins acknowledged that he might have to take on more goal-scoring responsibility.
Just eight minutes after the first kick Saturday, he came through spectacularly with a tightly angled chip that sent the Sounders to a 1-0 win over San Jose before an MLS-season-high crowd of 49,746 at CenturyLink Field.
Martins took a pass from Gonzalo Pineda about 5 yards from the end line and well left of the near post. He one-touched it with his left foot over goalkeeper Jon Busch and into the side netting of the far post.
It was Martins’ fifth goal of a season in which he also has six assists.
Earlier in the week, he had said he might need to add to his scoring now that club goals-leader Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin are away with the United States national team.
On Saturday, coach Sigi Schmid adjusted his lineup by moving Kenny Cooper up front alongside Martins at forward. He also reworked three-fourths of the back line that had given up five goals the previous weekend at New England, keeping Chad Marshall in the middle surrounded by Leo Gonzalez, Jalil Anibaba and Zach Scott, who wore the captain’s armband.
The changes were even more extensive for the Earthquakes, who were without Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson due to international duty, Victor Bernardez and Shea Salinas due to disciplinary suspension, and Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart due to injury. San Jose’s 11 starters combined took the pitch with a combined one goal (former Sounder Cordell Cato) and no assists.
They did not add to that total Saturday, as Martins’ goal stood up as the game winner.
The result kept Seattle (8-3-1) atop the Major League Soccer standings. San Jose fell to 2-4-4.
The Sounders return to action at 4 p.m. Saturday when they visit the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Attendance: 49,746, largest in MLS this season.
Second half: … is underway. No changes for either side.
Halftime: Sounders, 1-0.
8′ GOAL Sounders. Obafemi Martins — who acknowledged he might need to score more now — scores. A top-class chip from extremely difficult angle. Seattle, 1-0.
Martins took a pass from Gonzalo Pineda about 5 yards from the end line and well left of the near post. He one-touched it with his left foot over goalkeeper Jon Busch and inside the side netting of the far post. It was Martins’ fifth goal of a season in which he also has six assists.
First kick: … has been struck. We’re under way. Sounders in rave/blue; Quakes in their new red/red.
Lineups: For Sounders: GK Frei; D Anibaba, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez; M Pappa, Alonso, Pineda, Neagle; F Cooper, Martins. Reserves: Hahnemann, Azira, Barrett, Remick, Rose, Traore.
For Quakes: Busch; Barklage, Harden, Stewart, Francis; Cato, Pierazzi, Stephenson, Cronin; Schuler, Harris. Reserves: Meredith, Fucito, Garza, Jahn, Koval. Yep, that’s it: 16 guys traveled.
Pregame: Two hours before the match and the sun is still shining at CenturyLink Field where somewhere around 50,000 fans are expected to watch the Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes at 7 p.m.
The game will be shown on Fox/Channel 13, heard on the usual radio outlets, and blogged here, with more updates and comments on Twitter @donruiztnt.
It’s also military-appreciation night, with activities planned, starting at the March to the Match. More information available at SoundersFC.com.