Sounders top MLS leaders

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comApril 9, 2014 

Seattle’s Clint Dempsey, left, hugs Portland goalkeeper Andrew Weber — a former Sounder — after Dempsey scored one of his three goals Saturday.

STEVEN BISIG/USA TODAY SPORTS

Five games into the new season, a pair of Seattle Sounders stand atop two of the most prestigious statistical categories in Major League Soccer.

Midfielder Clint Dempsey’s four goals put him in a three-way tie for the league’s goal-scoring lead, while forward Obafemi Martins is alone at the top with four assists.

“What we really wish is for them to continue to find each other,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “... I don’t care who scores, I don’t care who gets the assist, as long as we’re scoring as a team.”

Martins has been a goal scorer his entire career, but he is new to the role of playmaker. He already has matched his assist total from last season, when he also scored eight goals.

“For the time that I’m doing it, I think I’m excited,” Martins said of his distribution. “Maybe it’s not going to help me scoring goals, but I have to help the team to win games. ... As a striker, someone has to be selfish anyway, and someone has to try to help the team by passing the ball around. We’re doing well. ... Seeing Dempsey scoring goals, and (Kenny) Cooper as well; they’re doing great, and I’m trying to pass the ball around.”

Martins’ four assists put him one ahead of four players, including former Sounder Mauro Rosales, now with Chivas USA.

Dempsey’s hat trick Saturday in a 4-4 result at Portland moved him into a tie for the MLS Golden Boot lead along with Vicente Sanchez of Colorado and Erick Torres of Chivas.

“You always feel good when you’re contributing, scoring goals or getting assists,” Dempsey said. “I’m in a good rhythm at the moment, and it’s about continuing that form.”

Other Sounders among the league leaders are goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who is tied for first with two shutouts, tied for fifth with 15 saves, and has the second-longest shutout streak at 215 minutes.

Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso is tied for fifth with 11 fouls committed and 15 fouls suffered.

As a team, the Sounders lead the league with 12 assists and rank second with nine goals. They lead the league in fouls suffered (99), are second in shots faced (79), third in shots on goal (26), and fourth in shots (71).

HAPPY UCONN HUSKY

Monday was a good day for Sounders goalkeeper Josh Ford, who had some teammates over to watch his alma mater — the University of Connecticut — win the NCAA men’s basketball championship over Kentucky, 60-54.

“I was just a mess until the end,” he said. “I was super-excited. It was great.”

Ford’s good week continued Tuesday, when Schmid restated his faith in the fourth-year goalkeeper, despite his lack of playing time behind starter Stefan Frei and top reserve Marcus Hahnemann.

“Josh is one of the best shot-stoppers you ever want to see,” Schmid said. “At training and so forth what he does is really good. … He’s a goalkeeper we think is a very talented goalkeeper for the future.”

Schmid went on to say that Ford might be loaned out later this season to get more game experience.

Ford said he was happy to hear all of it.

“It’s great they’re recognizing I’m doing well,” he said. “I’ve put in a lot of work. My teammates also see it. They’ve given me a lot of compliments and things. It would be nice to go on a loan, just to get matches. At the end of the day we all want to play, so I think it would be a great opportunity.”

INJURY UPDATE

The Sounders announced Tuesday that rookie defender Damion Lowe, 20, has undergone hip surgery and is expected to miss fourth months.

The club also announced that forward Kevin Parsemain, 26, will undergo surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament and could miss the remainder of the season.

Schmid added that the club is being cautious with midfielder Brad Evans’ calf injury, and that if he misses the Saturday match at Dallas, the Sounders hope to have him back the following weekend at Chivas USA.

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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