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Originally published Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Sounders FC players Fredy Montero and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado bond

The two pals admitted they hardly could have imagined being All-Stars in their first seasons in the league.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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SANDY, Utah — Daysury Hurtado cradled her infant son, gently bouncing him as she recalled his birth. A smile came across her face.

Hurtado and her husband — Sounders FC defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — and the couple's son, Paolo, were watching Sounders FC take on the New York Red Bulls on TV, the day after Paolo was born. Daddy had flown back from New Jersey and missed the game to be with his wife for the birth.

Just before halftime of the match, the Hurtados watched their good friend Fredy Montero score a goal.

Montero celebrated his goal with a little jog toward the sideline. Joined by teammate Osvaldo Alonso, the two Sounders FC players clearly had something planned as they began to lift their jerseys. Pulling them up and coming to a stop, the message on the pair's undershirts was clear.

"Paolo Hurtado, God Bless You," read Montero's shirt. "Welcome into the world, 6-19-09," Alonso's said.

Back in Bellevue, the Hurtados were overcome with emotion from the gesture.

"We cried when we saw that," Mrs. Hurtado said.

If Montero and Hurtado — a pair of Sounders FC All-Stars from Colombia who played on the same club team in their native land before coming to Seattle — weren't as close as brothers by the time they first put on the rave green jerseys, they most certainly are now. The two are experiencing almost everything together — playing in Major League Soccer in footy-mad Seattle, driving to practice together, Montero and his brother spending time at the Hurtados' place, and now, as players representing Seattle in the MLS All-Star Game just six months after joining Sounders FC.

"Our friendship has more than grown, I think it's maintained," Montero said after the MLS All-Stars practiced Tuesday. "From hard times and good times, being here [in the U.S.] is very different with everything that goes on in this job. But we've been selected as two of the best players in the league, representing Seattle Sounders FC, and we're so proud to belong to this team because it gave us the opportunity to show what we can do. And here we are."

The two pals admitted they hardly could have imagined being All-Stars in their first seasons in the league. They're spending the early part of this week in Utah enjoying the experience, knowing they'll suit up against English Premier League power Everton Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium outside of Salt Lake City.

"It's so cool to be here with all these great players," Hurtado said. "So many great things have happened for me this year and this is one of them, in my first year in MLS.

"My friendship with Fredy is incredible because we're going through the same things together as close friends, like brothers who love each other, although we aren't but we feel like that."

Montero and Hurtado's friendship is also based on improving each other's games. Without question, the two twentysomethings like to joke around and lighten the mood, and teammates have started picking up Spanish from them.

"There's a good relationship there, but they also drive each other," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "I've seen Kennedy get on Montero on the field, and Montero get on Kennedy on the field, because they both want to do well."

Fatherhood even has Hurtado complaining to his coach about a lack of sleep.

"He came in one day and said 'Two times. Baby,' " Schmid said, remembering a tired Hurtado trudging into practice. "Obviously it changes your life. But he's stayed fairly stable in terms of his performance during this period of time, so I'm happy with that."

The idea to flash the tribute to Paolo Hurtado was Montero's. Alonso was only too happy to oblige on his part.

"I'm so happy that they're All-Stars, happy that they got to go and represent Seattle," Alonso said. "Of course I was agreeable to [the tribute]. It felt really good and I enjoyed it."

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

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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