When Seattle Sounders FC signed designated player Clint Dempsey on Aug. 3, the club envisioned a three-pronged attack featuring Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins. But in the 16 games since, those three have never started alongside each other, and they have shared the pitch for a total of 15 minutes.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid suggested today that total could grow Thursday, when Seattle faces the do-or-die second leg of its Western Conference semifinal series at Portland.
“Oba got through what we wanted him to get through,” Schmid said after training. “Stepped it up from yesterday, so that was really, really encouraging. … We’re as healthy as we can be right now.”
Trouble getting the three players on the field together started from their first game as teammates. Dempsey made his Sounders debut on Aug. 10, but he came on in place of Martins, who suffered an ankle injury. Martins missed the next four games. When he returned Sept. 7, Johnson was away on international duty.
Johnson returned Sept. 13, and that marked the only time the three players played together. Martins started and scored in what turned out to be a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake. Dempsey came off the bench in the 61st minute, and Johnson completed the triumvirate in the 75th minute. The victory sent Seattle to the top of Major League Soccer.
However, Dempsey missed the next three matches due to a hamstring injury. When he returned Oct. 9, Johnson was away with the national team again. While away, Johnson suffered a groin injury, and didn’t return to the Sounders’ lineup until Oct. 27 -- the final game of the regular season. But by then, Martins was out with the groin injury that also kept him out of the first two playoff matches but from which he could return Thursday.