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Originally published Friday, April 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Montero might miss Sounders FC game with flu

Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero did not make the trip to Toronto with the team Thursday due to illness, but the team hopes the young star can get healthy enough to fly Friday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero, the Major League Soccer Player of the Month for March and its leading scorer with three goals this season, is expected to miss Saturday's game at Toronto FC due to illness.

Montero did not board the team flight to Toronto on Thursday, according to the team. The team is holding out hope that if Montero's condition improves, he could join the team today.

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said Wednesday that the flu, or something similar, affected a couple of players this week.

"We're hoping he's going to be all right," Schmid said of Montero. "There's been a flu that a couple of guys have had, so obviously we want to be sure that it's nothing more than the flu or flu-like symptoms."

Three players who have long-term injuries — Peter Vagenas, Chris Eylander and Taylor Graham — also did not accompany the team.

The three haven't been able to play in a game nor take part in a full practice for weeks.

Vagenas had left-knee surgery at the end of January. Eylander has a sprained ligament in his right knee that has plagued him for four weeks. Graham has a broken bone under the middle of his left foot that required surgery.

Vagenas is finally able to wear soccer shoes when he runs and hopes to "be able to participate in some fashion" in practice in the next couple of weeks.

"Just being out there with the guys doing what you've been doing, you obviously long for it," the 31-year-old midfielder said.

This week, a protective boot Graham wore over his foot for five weeks was removed. He was injured in Seattle's first exhibition game in early February when his foot hit a goal post while he was being tackled. Graham continued to play for 2 ½ weeks, thinking he had a bruise. A doctor's diagnosis confirmed the break, and Graham needed surgery.

He had been working with the starting unit before his injury. The team has since added two central defenders, Tyrone Marshall and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who are now the starters.

"If everything goes smoothly, I'd like to be training full-out in a week or so," Graham said this week.

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He said not being on the field in front of thousands of passionate fans is disappointing.

"Frustrating. Amazing. Every emotion possible," Graham said of his emotions. "Every game I still get the chills when everyone stands up and puts the scarves up. [It's] disappointing not to be down there experiencing it first hand, but the guys have done a great job."

Eylander, like Graham a former United Soccer Leagues Sounder, was signed to be Kasey Keller's backup at goalkeeper. He was fine until the practice after the team returned from Argentina in early March, when he dived to punch a ball and jammed his right knee on the Qwest Field turf, tearing the posterior-cruciate ligament. The injury didn't require surgery but has left Seattle without an experienced No. 2 keeper.

Eylander hopes to take part in practice next week and "do everything" the following week.

"They're kind of saying they'll progress me as fast as my knee allows," he said. "So far that's been pretty quick."

Note

• The U.S. men's national team will play a first-round match in CONCACAF Gold Cup competition at Qwest Field on July 4. The U.S., part of Group B in the three-group tournament, faces Grenada at 6 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader that starts with Haiti vs. Honduras at 4. Presale tickets will be available to Sounders FC and Seahawks season-ticket holders today. Tickets will go on sale to the public Friday, April 17.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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