Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are MLS’ best strike duo yet; By Steve Davis
Major League Soccer has seen its share of high quality strike duos over 20 years.
There have even been striker partnerships that were merely “good” and even a couple of truly sensational ones, productive, classy and electrifying all at once.
But let’s go ahead and start making the case that we are currently watching the best striker partnership that has ever tormented Major League Soccer’s back lines. Because up in Seattle, Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are making that case easier and easier to sell.
I mean, have you seen these guys perform once they reach top gear? If not, you should remedy that, and right quick. Because you really are missing something.
Right now, they are both league MVP candidates and a big reason why Seattle is just a tick behind Dallas and Vancouver in the West – but actually ahead of the pack if we order the bunch by points per game. It’s not just the raw numbers either; these two pass the eyeball test, too. After absorbing some early pressure over the weekend at Yankee Stadium, they proceeded to completely take apart NYCFC’s helpless defense in a 3-1 road win. If you watched the match, you know it could have been worse. Seattle put nine shots on target (well above average) and should have gotten a late penalty kick when Martins was taken down inside the penalty area.
(Aside: referee Silviu Petrescu needs a good talking to, having given Martins a ridiculous yellow card for “diving” when no such thing happened. More than any other MLS referee, Petrescu doesn’t like to call fouls, seemingly bent on turning MLS into MMA. He wants the teams to play “tough guy” soccer, and booking Martins when he was legitimately fouled is all the evidence you need that MLS and the league’s referee assigning body really should tell the man to get on board or go somewhere else.)
Dempsey was at his tricks-and-flicks best on the Sounders’ final strike, one of the most well constructed goals you’ll see in MLS this year, an 18-pass beauty. Even that silly field at Yankee Stadium (way too small, the grass way too long) couldn’t bother a Seattle team that had its confidence, thought and passing game cranked up to 11. Dempsey’s sublime flick-on met Martins’ well-placed run and the Nigerian international made his finish past a strangely hesitant Josh Saunders look easy.
It really was the cherry on the parfait for a match that reminded us: Seattle is the defending Supporters Shield winner and U.S. Open Cup champion, and there is zero reason to think that Sigi Schmid’s well-balanced outfit cannot challenge for those titles again in 2015, plus the big prize that has thus far eluded the gang from CenturyLink Field, the MLS Cup.