Seattle Sounders goals leader Obafemi Martins tweeted a goodbye to the club’s fans Wednesday.
Martins confirmed his departure for Shanghai Greenland Shenhua FC of China and expressed his appreciation to Sounders FC supporters, teammates and coaches “for the memories that will last a lifetime.”
“Something I feel strongly about is challenging myself,” Martins wrote. “… I’ve grown to appreciate the feeling I get when entering environments where I’m not a proven footballer.”
He concluded his message: “Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.”
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Martins, 31, scored 43 goals in 84 appearances since joining the Sounders as a designated player in March 2013. He set a club record with 17 goals in 2014 and led Seattle with 15 goals last season. He was a Major League Soccer Best XI selection in 2014 and was voted team MVP each of the past two seasons.
General manager Garth Lagerwey has acknowledged that a Chinese club had approached Sounders FC about a deal. However, the club has not confirmed that a deal has been completed nor given any indication of what the team might receive in return.
Martins’ departure would open a designated player slot on the roster.
Sounders FC on Wednesday unveiled new primary and alternate uniforms for the coming season.
The home uniform features the usual blue shorts and rave green jerseys, but the new jerseys feature blue sleeves. The alternates — called Pacific blue — is made up of a dark blue top and light blue shorts.
The new jerseys will go on sale at 6 p.m. Friday during a club event at the Pro Shop at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders will use the all-white uniform unveiled last season as their secondary jersey.
The Sounders took a 4-0 win against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday at Stubhub Center in Carson, California, in the final friendly of the preseason.
Seattle got two goals from midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz and two assists from homegrown forward Jordan Morris.
The other goals came from Clint Dempsey and Chad Marshall, with assists from Brad Evans and Dempsey.
Even in the absence of Martins, the The club retained the 4-3-3 formation it has introduced this preseason. Morris took Martins’ place on the front line alongside Nelson Valdez and Dempsey.
The midfield was composed of Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg and Ivanschitz, while the back line was made up of Tyrone Mears, Evans, Marshall and Joevan Jones in front of goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
That also projects as coach Sigi Schmid’s first choice lineup Tuesday when the The Sounders open their CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series Tuesday, meeting facing Club America of Mexico at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders went 1-3 in four preseason friendlies against professional sides, with the Galaxy game following 2-1 losses to Portland, Vancouver and Celaya FC of Mexico.
The club will resume training Saturday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.