Fredy Montero's impressive goal-scoring fueling Sounders
The Sounders lead MLS with 53 goals, and Montero has had a foot in most of them recently.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders FC @ Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m., KONG
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TUKWILA — For a rare game, Sounders FC's captain wasn't Kasey Keller.
No, Keller got the night off for Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League game against CF Monterrey of Mexico. In his place, the captain's armband went to Fredy Montero.
"We just felt that Fredy was a guy who deserved it," said coach Sigi Schmid. "He has been playing well; he's been leading the team with his effort and his performance."
And, not least of which, scoring.
Montero's 18 goals this season in all competitions — MLS, CCL and U.S. Open Cup — are new personal and team records. His 12 in MLS equal his total in 2009.
What's more important is he's heating up at just the right time.
Whereas Montero didn't score a goal after Sept. 1 to close out the 2010 season, the Colombian forward has 11 goals in his past 11 games as the playoffs near.
"I'm happy with how I've done this season and I think also what's really important is at the team level we've done really well goal-wise as well," said the 24-year-old through a translator.
The Sounders lead MLS with 53 goals and Montero has had a foot in most of them recently. His seven-game stretch with either a goal or assist is the longest in the league this season.
"Having a player on that kind of streak going into the playoffs is helpful," said Schmid.
Montero became the team's highest-paid player in the offseason, with a base salary of $500,000, and entered 2011 "extremely motivated." He suffered a wrist fracture before the second game of the season, however, and underwent surgery after playing through the pain.
After sitting out two games, Montero returned, but had to play several weeks with a cumbersome cast. In May, the cast was reduced to a brace, which lasted several weeks more.
Only until midseason did Montero feel he was playing normally.
Said Schmid: "The cast probably threw off his equilibrium and his balance a little bit. He's the kind of player who's very technical and does rely on that balance, so maybe it was in his head a little bit, you don't know."
There are other factors to account for Montero's increased production in the second half of the season. Schmid credits growth, maturity and improved fitness. The inclusion of playmaking midfielder Mauro Rosales also helped take some of the pressure off.
Through it all, Montero has tried to maintain a steady approach.
"Unfortunately forwards are judged on whether they're scoring goals or not," he said, "but I feel that my play has been the same and consistent throughout the season."
• The MLS Expansion Draft for the Montreal Impact, which joins the league for the 2012 season, will be held via conference call on Nov. 23. Sounders FC can protect 11 players from selection and must submit its list by Nov. 21.
Seattle has lost three players in previous expansion drafts: Sebastien Le Toux to Philadelphia in 2009, and Sanna Nyassi and Nathan Sturgis to Vancouver in 2010. Nyassi and Sturgis were later traded to Colorado and Toronto, respectively.
"I think when you're a quality team there's always a chance you're going to lose somebody," Schmid said.
The MLS Re-Entry Draft will be held Dec. 5 (Stage 1) and Dec. 12 (Stage 2) and is a mechanism for certain qualified players to change teams if their options won't be picked up for 2012 or they are out of a contract.
• Defender James Riley was named Sounders FC Humanitarian of the Year for the second season in a row and will be nominated for the leaguewide award.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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