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Here are some notes from Thursday’s practice:
— First off, here’s our chat with Obafemi Martins. I’ll have more from an interview with Eddie Johnson later today.
— Midfielder Mario Martinez has not returned from national team duty yet, but we were told he’s en route.
— Here is coach Sigi Schmid on how international action might affect the trio’s availability for a busy stretch coming up with Saturday’s road game at Real Salt Lake and Tuesday’s CCL game against Mexico’s Santos Laguna:
“Mario played both (Honduras) games pretty much in their entirety. He was only short seven minutes, I think, from playing both games fully. Eddie had less minutes, so I think Eddie’s availability is good for both games — for both Saturday and for Tuesday. Mario’s might be a situation where it’s better to wait until Tuesday for him. Obviously we’re a lot closer to a full squad right now.”
“(Martins) got here on Tuesday, was able to do a little bit of stuff (and then) a little bit Wednesday. I think by Saturday he should be fine. He’s coming off playing at Levante where they were playing on the weekend and then playing Europa Cup midweek, so he’s been used to that rhythm, as well. So I think he’ll be OK.”
— Midfielder Brad Evans and Shalrie Joseph have continued to practice, and Schmid said both will feature Saturday and Tuesday, but those exact roles haven’t been determined yet.
— Regarding lineup decisions for the two games, Schmid noted that Santos Laguna is also facing a similar problem with a Liga MX game Saturday against Queretaro.
— A lot of attention went to Martins’ first practice with the team. So how did it go? “He was good,” Schmid said. “Obviously he’s learning people and people are learning him, but there were already a couple good combinations when we were playing touch-touch — Eddie slipped him in, and there were a couple times where Eddie got slipped in. I think as they get to know each other … they’ll be good.”
— It’s no secret that speed will be an advantage with a Martins/Johnson front line. So how does that change things? “I think it changes things for the opponent’s defense,” Schmid said. “I think they have to be a little more aware. Do they want to play a high line? Do they want to take that risk? Do they drop off a little bit more because they respect the speed? If they drop off, it gives us a little more space to play.
“We really have to see how the opponent reacts, and that will show us what we can do. If they play a high line, then we can use the speed to our advantage. If they drop off because they don’t want to get exposed speed-wise, then we have more space to play in front of them. I think we have enough quality that we can do that, as well. So we can do whatever they give us. That’s always the key in soccer: You’ve got to be able to beat a team at what they give you. You’re not always going to get the same thing every week.”
— Lastly, you might remember Schmid compared the Sounders’ offense to that of a butter knife earlier this week. And now? “I think we’re probably a little bit sharper; we’re a little bit of a serrated edge.”