Seattle Sounders fans can look forward to star Obafemi Martins playing with a mighty big chip on his shoulder in 2015. MLS named L.A. Galaxy forward Robbie Keane Most Valuable Player two weeks ago over Martins. When Martins was snubbed by his national team for World Cup duty, he claimed he’d play his own Oba World Cup and dominated MLS throughout the summer. I’m looking forward to the Oba MVP season next year.
Being awarded Sounders club MVP and MLS Goal of the Year honors are some consolation for the Nigerian (Martin’s goal against the Earthquakes was a helluva strike. My wife and I were up in our regular seats, high up in the west end, and from our angle Oba’s wonder strike looked even more ubermenschian).
The race for MLS MVP was tight this year as Keane, Martins and New England’s Lee Nguyen all had stellar seasons. Most prognosticators had it down to Martins and Keane, but Keane won the award easily. Thing is, major awards always lapse behind. The establishment usually honors the status quo even as the world changes around them (think of the Grammys or how Scorcese didn’t win an Oscar ‘til “The Departed).
Oba and Keane both put up tremendous numbers, though Keane’s raw stats were slightly better: Keane: 19 goals, 14 assists; Martins: 17 goals, 13 assists. But context is key. If everything was about numbers, then Seattle merely tied both Dallas and L.A. in the playoffs.
The context of professional sports MVP is further complicated because the award is usually given successful teams and, often, champions. The fact that Keane was named MVP days after L.A. advanced past Seattle to the MLS Cup most certainly played a part. If Seattle had advanced would Oba be clearing mantle space at this very moment? Seattle won the Supporters’ Shield and Oba was the best player (sorry Deuce) on the best team over 34 games and 8 months. Yes Keane had better raw numbers, but Oba was always very much involved in the flow of the game. Even when not getting the obvious, neon-light-can’t-miss wonder strikes.
In other Robbie Keane news from the week leading up to MLS Cup, the Irishman was spouting many crazy things. He made a clear swipe at CenturyLink Field’s playing surface in dismissing “astro turf” (as if this is the 80s). I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: the best turf is not better than the best grass. But there are horrible natural grass surfaces out there and quality turf far surpasses them. Sharing the stadium with the Seahawks contributes t more wear-and-tear, but I’d rather play downtown in a vibrant stadium and setting than on a perfect grass pitch forgotten in the suburbs any day.
Keane also claimed his breaking-down body can play for another four years. I hope you keep playing Robbie. If you’re as much of an impact in the next four years as you were in the last four games against Seattle, the Sounders will have no trouble winning the West for the foreseeable future.