Earning His Time
Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Miguel Montaño returned from a stint with the Colombia U-20 National Team to find a contract and a spot on the bench waiting for him. That makes for a pretty good week.
There are good players and bad players, according to Sigi Schmid. Not young players and old players. That is the criteria he has used his entire coaching career and that does not change with 18-year-old Colombian Miguel Montaño.
Just three days back from his first work with the Colombian under-20 National Team, Montaño made the bench for the Sounders FC’s 1-1 draw with Columbus on Saturday and has continued to impress in training as he vies for his Major League Soccer debut.
“Certainly you realize he’s a young player but at the end of the day, he’ll get on the field because he has the ability to play,” Schmid said. “If you have a young player he’s got to get on the field and do things for you. If he’s not on the field, it’s not because he can’t contribute, it’s more that you have somebody who is better that is on the field ahead of him. I’m very confident in his ability to contribute. We do remember that he’s a young player, but that doesn’t determine whether he gets on the field or not.”
Montaño left the Sounders FC briefly to train with the U-20s in Colombia. While away, he even played in a friendly with Uruguay, coming on as a second-half substitute. Upon his return, he learned that all of his paperwork had been completed and his contract with the Sounders FC became official. That great week was highlighted when he was named to the 18-man lineup for the match with the Crew.
“To be here a month and to be on the bench with the team was my goal all along. I want to continue to work hard and hopefully be a starter sometime. I want to give my best to the club,” Montaño said. “I think I have the potential, even though I’m really young, to play well with the reserves and to be a starting player.”
Montaño started training with the Sounders FC on March 17, jumping into the daily grind with a smile on his face as he began work toward getting into the team. Schmid has praised his ball-striking ability and his energy on both sides of the ball, pointing out that his enthusiasm compensates for some youthful mistakes he may make on the offensive side. Even with his paperwork keeping him in a bit of limbo, he kept working hard to get playing time. His paperwork finally cleared last week and he became eligible to play.
“He’s been here a while now so it’s given him a chance to settle in this country. I think he’s comfortable now with the team, he’s comfortable with the players and he’s comfortable in this country,” Schmid said.
Just before his contract became official, Montaño spent a week with Colombia’s U-20s. Upon his return, he showed some signs of early jetlag, but quickly regained the upbeat form that drew Schmid and his teammates so quickly.
“It was a marvelous experience. Absolutely unforgettable. As a player it’s always been the dream to wear the shirt of his country,” Montaño said. “I came here with confidence and I came back with even more. I worked hard while I was gone with the national team. Then I came back and worked hard in those three days to be with the reserves.”
While that impact may not come instantly, he is making progress toward that end goal. Particularly in the eyes of his teammates and coaching staff.
“He has come out to show his effort and his desire to win and to play. We’re happy to have him here and he’s got a great future,” fellow Colombian Fredy Montero said.
“His opportunity will come,” added Schmid. “When that opportunity will be, that’s something we have to see because we want to present him with a good opportunity. Certainly there are a lot of things he’s done at training that I like.”
That first opportunity may come Saturday when the Sounders FC host the LA Galaxy Saturday at 1 pm. The game will be televised on KONG.