The Sounders Friday finally signed Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, who will occupy Seattle’s third and final designated player spot. Martins will wear jersey No. 9 and might play as soon as Saturday night against the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia Cup match at CenturyLink Field.
“This move is consistent with our promise to the fans,” said Joe Roth, Sounders majority owner. “Our supporters are the best in Major League Soccer and deserve a team that competes each and every year. Obafemi is an electrifying talent who has international experience at the highest level.”
The 28-year-old Martins, Seattle’s third designated player following Mauro Rosales and Shalrie Joseph, played 12 seasons in Europe’s top leagues, including five with Inter Milan of Italy’s Serie A and three years for English Premier League side Newcastle United.
Martins has 103 goals in 316 appearances, and 18 goals in 38 appearances for the Nigeria National Team, including two games in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“We are thrilled to welcome Obafemi to our family,” said owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer. “Winning trophies continues to be the focus of our club. Martins is an impact player who we hope will help us reach the ultimate goal.”
“This adds a pretty talented player,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He hasn’t had a chance to train with us yet or get to know the names of his teammates, but what’s really great and encouraging is his desire to want to be here, his desire to undertake the journey and wanting to be part of where we’re at, be part of the rivalry.”
Martins joins the Sounders following one season with Levante of Spain’s La Liga where he scored nine goals in 24 appearances across all competitions. Martins spent the first five years of his professional career with Inter Milan, scoring 28 goals in 88 league games and 49 goals in 135 appearances across all competitions. He helped Inter Milan win four major titles, including the Serie A title in 2005-06.
Following his time with Inter, Martins joined Newcastle United for three seasons. He scored 28 goals in 88 English Premier League matches and 35 goals in 104 all-competitions appearances. Martins had his highest-scoring professional season when he scored 17 in 2006-07, including 11 goals in the EPL and six in UEFA Champions League play.
Martins also played for Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga, Russia’s Rubin, and England’s Birmingham City before joining Levante last September.
Martins made his first appearance for the Nigeria National Team May 29, 2004, against Ireland. He has since scored 18 goals in 38 games, and has played in one World Cup and three Africa Cup of Nations.
Martins arrived at Sea-Tac Friday afternoon.
He has the speed the Sounders were looking for and experience having played for Europe’s top clubs. Would like to see them get a tall striker over six foot at some point also.