Sounders' Fredy Montero eyeing next level of competition
Fredy Montero, who has reiterated his desire to play in a bigger league, flashed his next-level potential Wednesday with two goals against world power Chelsea FC.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Loyalty to Sounders FC and MLS is fine and good, but coach Sigi Schmid wants his players to crave more.
The more ambition, the better.
"If they're not hungry and trying to get to that next level, and they're just very content and satisfied, then maybe they lose a little bit of that edge," said Schmid, who thinks multiple Sounders are capable of playing in a bigger league.
Fredy Montero showcased that next-level potential Wednesday, scoring two goals in a friendly against English club Chelsea FC, the reigning UEFA Champions League winner.
In doing so, Montero became the first Sounder to score against a major European opponent — Seattle had been outscored 15-0 before his first goal — and afterward he reiterated his desire to challenge himself against the world's best.
Montero didn't hesitate when asked if he hoped to play in the English Premier League one day.
"I would love to play there," the 24-year-old said. "I'm waiting for the right opportunity to come. I'm ready to play in one of those leagues."
Montero, who has often been linked to a transfer to a bigger league, is Sounders FC's all-time leading scorer. While not currently Seattle's leading scorer this season — Eddie Johnson has eight goals to his five — Montero is confident he could succeed at the next level.
Unfortunately, there are no standing offers.
"I wish," he said. "I'm waiting for that. Hopefully soon."
So, is Montero ready?
Schmid navigated around specifically calling the forward EPL-ready, but said Montero is "ready to play at another level."
"It's got to be the right situation, it's got to be the right opportunity for him, and then you've got to take advantage of it," the coach said.
So how can Montero increase his value?
Consistent production would be the obvious answer for the streaky scorer, but Schmid said a bigger factor would be leading the Sounders — who are still digging their way out of recent struggles — to greater team success.
"The more we win, the more attention you get, and that's the best thing you can do in terms of trying gain the ability to make that sort of a move," the coach said.
• Midfielder Brad Evans has some swelling in his right knee after blocking a cross in the second half of Wednesday's friendly, but Schmid said team doctors don't fear serious injury. Evans, Cordell Cato (knee sprain) and Alex Caskey (hamstring) each participated in warm-ups Thursday and are expected to participate in the team's next training session Monday.
• Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning is still on track for a return in Seattle's July 28 game at Colorado. He has missed the last 13 MLS games with a hip strain.
• Midfielder Steve Zakuani, who played eight minutes Wednesday, could still go out on loan to a lower-division team in an attempt to get more playing time. Schmid noted that there are MLS Reserve League games coming up, which could also give an opportunity to Zakuani, who is still on the road to a full recovery from a devastating leg injury. "It's a very fluid situation," Schmid said.
• Schmid indicated that Montero and Johnson had a dust-up at practice earlier this season, as first reported by Kyle Martino on an NBC Sports Network broadcast two weeks ago, but said it's not uncommon in professional sports and isn't an issue.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @joshuamayers