Fredy Montero led the Sounders FC in scoring and his seven assists also put him amongst the league leaders.
After hitting the Seattle scene like a house on fire last season, scoring three goals in the first two games for the Sounders FC, Montero cooled his frenetic goal-scoring pace to finish with 12 goals on the season. That offensive prowess earned him the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, beating out goalkeeper Kasey Keller and midfielder Freddie Ljungberg for the honors.
Maybe it’s youthful enthusiasm. Maybe it’s the desire to thrill the Seattle crowd. Or maybe it’s just the dogged competitiveness in the 22-year-old Colombian striker.
Whatever the reason, Montero wants more.
However, his goals are more team-oriented than would be expected from a brash, young prolific offensive player.
“It's a new year and we have an opportunity to show our fans that we are that we are ready and want to win the MLS Cup,” said Montero, who split his off-season time between Seattle and his native Colombia. “The expectations are high. What we did last year was huge but we want to be do more and have the opportunity to be better this year.”
His first-year exploits didn’t go unnoticed either. With the profile of MLS rising, so has the image of the league’s players and Montero’s successes reportedly drew interest from teams all over Europe.
While Montero has made it known that his goal is to eventually play in Europe, he assures fans that his focus is on playing in Seattle - a city that has embraced him wholeheartedly.
For now, a trip to Europe with the Sounders will have to do. Seattle is in their second preseason trip after spending nine days in Casa Grande, Arizona. Now three days into training in La Manga, Spain, Montero looks to have a heightened sense of excitement for the 2010 season. In addition to the great competition in Spain, Montero and the Sounders will have the opportunity to test themselves against some of the top clubs in CONCACAF when Champions League begins in July.
“It’s the opportunity to go in and show what kind of level of play we have,” Montero said. “In Spain there are clubs with high levels of play. If we play well, obviously we can come back here and play well in the Champions League tournament. It’s a great opportunity to show we can play well.”
With just over a month before the Sounders FC faces the Philadelphia Union in MLS First Kick at Qwest Field on March 25, Montero is building toward his second MLS season. While he has high aspirations for the team, his expectations on himself are perhaps even higher. However, the flashy, charismatic goal-scorer is ever-understated in his personal goals for the 2010 season.
“I don’t know. I am concentrating on the preseason and working really hard,” Montero said. “I hope to return to the level I played last year. It's all in God's hands.”
The Sounders will train in Spain through the rest of the month and will return to training in Seattle in March with preseason training matches against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers already on the schedule in early-March.