There is a lot to say about yesterday’s World Cup qualifier. Some people thought Eddie Johnson was below average, some merely average and then others felt that if he was a more central figure it could have lead to another goal or two. I’m sure most people thought Brad Evans had a steller game sitting on the bench. But regardless of what number the common soccer fan rates either one of these guys with the bottom line is that Mario Martinez was better.
Looking at his passing charts in the final third, it’s apparent that Martinez was one of the key distributors among the squad.
Successful Passes within Attacking Third
Unsuccessful Passes within Attacking Third
No one won or lost the job the other day in the Timbers friendly, but this was one of those types of performances that was finished with an exclamation point and he didn’t even score a goal or provide an assist. His 2 Key Passes tied for the lead between both squads (holding with Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson). The fact is that the young Olympian didn’t look over matched and he didn’t seem awed by the moment. Maybe his demeanour will change when they head out on the road to harsher conditions such as Mexico or Costa Rica.
But for now this performance is engrained as yet another reason to find a place for Martinez in the line-up.
One last quick thought: Martinez isn’t Fredy Montero. I’ve said this quite a bit in my 5 1/2 months of writing here at this site. But I believe we need to get that through to all the supporters, first and foremost. The guy is immensely talented and while he’s going to score some goals, his talent lies in his ability to find fellow attackers in good position and deliver into tight spots.
You think about how he performed against a solid U.S. back line that was a tight mix of top flight European players and an MLS defender-of-the-year. Yet, he still found ways to contribute and try to keep his team flowing and create opportunities. It makes you think about how he could perform against one of the weaker teams in MLS and what type of future he’s got here in Seattle.
The Sounders NEED to keep him around and need to above all else, find a place to start him. Whether that’s around EJ or as the team’s left midfielder. I’m not sure what the future holds for him, but should he move onto bigger and better things, sooner than later, that would be a gigantic loss to this franchise. People just haven’t yet realized it.