When Fredy Montero scored the winner against FC Dallas in U.S. Open Cup play on Aug. 30 there was no way of knowing it was a season-changing goal.
But that’s what it has turned out to be.
Montero went into that game with seven goals in 27 competitions – good for second on the team behind Alvaro Fernandez.
When the Sounders kick off their final Major League Soccer regular-season match Saturday at Chivas USA, Montero will have added 11 more – a team record and career high for all competitions.
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Twelve of his 18 goals have come in MLS play. That matches the career-high he set in his rookie season, leads the club and ties him for fifth in the league.
“I just want to score goals,” Montero said Thursday. “I’m happy with what I’ve done this season. And I think what’s really important is at the team level we’ve done really well goal-wise as well.”
Montero’s late-season barrage has come in the service of victories. Over this streak, starting with that Open Cup win against Dallas, the Sounders are 6-2 in games when Montero has scored.
The rejuvenation followed a relatively slow start to the season for the club’s career goals leader. Part of that could be attributed to a wrist injury he suffered in the second game of the season at New York, which forced him to play with a cast for about two months.
“The cast probably threw off his equilibrium and his balance a little bit,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s very technical and does rely on that balance. Maybe it was in his head a little bit. You don’t know. But I also think his fitness level came along and came up. I think the addition of (Mauro) Rosales took some pressure off of him, helped open up some spaces. I think all those things combined and allowed him to play very well.”
Montero never hid how much he disliked his cast. However, he thinks he was playing comparably well even then by contributing in ways less notable than snapping the back of the net.
“When I’m on the field, my goal is to score goals,” he said. “And if I’m not scoring goals, then my goal is to assist. And if I’m not assisting, then I’m trying to generate plays. Unfortunately, forwards are judged by whether they’re scoring goals or not, but I feel that my play has been the same and consistent throughout the season.”
MLS this week handed down its rules for the expansion draft that will help stock the Montreal Impact, which will become the league’s 19th team next season.
The rules are very much like those that cost the Sounders forward Sebastien Le Toux to the Philadelphia Union in 2009, and midfielder Sanna Nyassi and defender Nathan Sturgis to the Vancouver Whitecaps last season.
Teams will submit a list of 11 protected player on Nov. 21. Two days later, Montreal will take one player from 10 different clubs.
“I think when you’re a quality team there’s always a chance that you’re going to lose somebody,” Schmid said. “And the way the rules are, you can’t protect everybody, so sometimes you’ve got to leave somebody out there that you really don’t want to lose But hopefully we don’t lose anybody and we’ll see. It’s sort of a backhanded compliment when you lose players. It means that you’re doing something right because you’re producing players.”