National duty calls three Sounders away

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comMarch 19, 2013 

Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson has been called in to the United States men’s national team for its World Cup qualifiers this week and next.

Johnson is one of three Sounders who will miss Seattle’s MLS match at San Jose on Saturday because of duty with their national teams. The others are midfielder Mario Martinez (Honduras) and recently acquired designated player Obafemi Martins (Nigeria).

“It’s frustrating: It just delays it another week because we can’t train together,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We need some time right now to train together; but hopefully once we get all them back we can implement that. But we still have the rest of the guys here, so we can get that nucleus to play and the cohesion within that group a little bit better right now.”

Seattle (0-1-1) might have one new option at forward, because David Estrada returned from an ankle sprain and played 90 minutes Sunday in a 1-0 Reserve League loss to Portland.

The Earthquakes will be without a pair of defenders: Victor Bernardez (Honduras) and Justin Morrow (USA).

Johnson will join the United States for its Friday match against Costa Rica in Commerce City, Colo., and for the match against Mexico one week from today at Mexico City.

He has 14 goals in 46 appearances for the U.S. He scored his first goal of the MLS season Saturday in the Sounders’ 1-1 draw with Portland.

Johnson and Morrow were on the roster announced Monday by United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The full roster is made up of goalkeepers Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Sean Johnson (Chicago) and Nick Rimando (Salt Lake); defenders Tony Beltran (Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles), Clarence Goodson (Brondby) and Morrow; midfielders DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Roma), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Jermaine Jones (Schalke), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Brek Shea (Stoke City) and Graham Zusi (Kansas City); and forwards Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham), Herculez Gomez (Santos) and Johnson.

Martins, who signed Friday and played 20 minutes in his Sounders debut Saturday, will join Nigeria for its home match against Kenya on Saturday. He has 38 caps with 18 goals.

Martinez will join Honduras for a home qualifier against Mexico on Friday and against Panama at Panama City on March 26.

All are expected back for the Sounders’ match at Real Salt Lake on March 30.

ADDED TIME

Sounders FC is among four nominees for sports team of the year in SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily’s 2013 Sports Business Awards. The other nominees are the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA), San Francisco 49ers (NFL) and Washington Nationals (MLB). … Tickets went on sale Monday for the Sounders’ CONCACAF Champions League semifinal match against Santos Laguna, which will kick off at 7 p.m., April 2, at CenturyLink Field. … After a day off Monday, the Sounders will resume training today. … D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was MLS player of the week after seven saves in his club’s scoreless draw with New York.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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